Telepsychiatry in Chennai, India: The SCARF experience


  • Rangaswamy Thara M.D., Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    • Schizophrenia Research Foundation, R/7A, North Main Road, West Anna Nagar Extension, Chennai 600 101, India.
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  • Sujit John M.A.,

  • Kotteswara Rao M.S.W.


India, with its huge population and limited mental health resources, must find alternative ways of delivering its mental healthcare services. Telepsychiatry seems to be a promising option even with no regulatory authority in place or specific laws in India that deal with telemedicine practice, there has been a mushrooming of telemedicine services in India. Healthy cooperation between government organizations such as the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and institutions in the non-government and private sectors is another key feature in India.

The experience of the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), at Chennai, in South India, in running and establishing a telepsychiatry network is presented in this article. We identified the following tasks as essential to ensure an efficient intervention using telemedicine: identifying a suitable technology, a suitable location, and a local collaborator; providing training and creating awareness; establishing peripheral telepsychiatry centers and ensuring case documentation; and accountability. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.