Pennsylvania OMHSAS Approves Innovative Mobile Crisis Telepsychiatry Program

Access Services is a non-profit organization that provides support services for a range of people including adults and children with developmental disabilities and their families to individuals with mental illness.

Through collaboration with InSight Telepsychiatry, the leading national telepsychiatry provider company, Access Services now offers in-home crisis management and assessments via telepsychiatry as part of both their 24/7 Adult Mobile Crisis Program and 24/7 Children’s Crisis Support Program. Access Services’ Adult Mobile Crisis program was officially approved in July 2014 while the Children’s Crisis Support Program received its endorsement earlier this month.

Both programs launched in 2014, making them the first mobile crisis programs to incorporate telepsychiatry in the country. Since their launch, both mobile crisis programs have been successful in increasing timely access to psychiatric care.

“We’ve seen great improvements in hospital diversions, seeing over 90% of crises stabilized without using an inpatient stay since the launch of the mobile crisis programs,” says Children’s Crisis Support Director, Eric Smith.

With the official approval of these programs, OMHSAS has formally embraced a healthcare innovation that will improve the well-being of its Southeastern Pennsylvania citizens.

With the nation facing a shortage of psychiatrists and behavioral health providers, telepsychiatry is an effective means of augmenting existing services to increase access to timely care.

“We are grateful for the approvals from OMHSAS and are fortunate to be located in a state that supports innovations in health care that increase access to care for Pennsylvania’s citizens,” says Brenda Boorse, Regional Vice President at Access Services.

“Telepsychiatry has been found to be an effective auxiliary tool for treating people in need, and we are excited to be able to offer it to the people of Pennsylvania we serve, thanks to the approval by the OMHSAS,” says Adult Mobile Crisis Director, Jessica Fenchel.

When a person in crisis calls the Access Services or the Children’s Crisis Program, a trained crisis support team goes to their home to help calm the situation and offer mediation and support. If the aid of a psychiatrist or other specialist is needed, the trained crisis team is able to connect in real time via videoconferencing to a psychiatric provider from InSight Telepsychiatry for additional assessment, care, consult and potentially emergency bridge prescriptions.

For individuals in crisis situations, being able to receive psychiatric services in their own home instead of traveling to a distant hospital, with the subsequent wait in an emergency department, can mean a difference of many crucial hours. Access Services’ telepsychiatry programs reduce the time consumers spend awaiting care and lessen the strain on psychiatric resources of area hospitals.

“By being able to utilize telepsychiatry in our mobile crisis procedures, we can provide patients in need with more immediate care in a setting that is familiar to them,” says Fenchel.

“Telepsychiatry, particularly when utilized across multiple locations, eliminates barriers to timely, effective psychiatric care,” says, Jim Varrell, MD, Medical Director of InSight Telepsychiatry, “We are pleased to work with Access Services on improving behavioral health care in Pennsylvania.”