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Stewart Memorial Community Hospital Launches Telepsychiatry Program

Lake City, IA – Stewart Memorial Community Hospital, a general medical and surgical hospital with 25 beds, launched a telepsychiatry program this week to increase access to psychiatric care. Located in Calhoun County, Lake City is a rural area with a shortage of mental health professionals, as designated by the Rural Health Clinics Program and the Federal Office of Rural Health.[1]

Telepsychiatry is the delivery of psychiatry through real time videoconferencing. It is proven to be an effective form of care delivery and a great way to expand the psychiatric support at a hospital, especially during difficult to staff hours like nights and weekends.

In a primarily rural state such as Iowa, patients often have limited or no access to timely, affordable and quality care. This is especially prevalent in regards to psychiatric care. With telepsychiatry, emergency departments can efficiently address each patient that comes in, reduce admissions and decrease patient wait times.  Having access to telepsychiatry can also help reduce psychiatric boarding and help make sure that those admitted to psychiatric beds actually need them. This is particularly useful in Iowa which, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, ranks second worst in the country for number of inpatient psychiatric beds with just 64 in the entire state.[2]

The telepsychiatry program is launched in partnership with InSight, a national telepsychiatry service provider organization. Telepsychiatry services are provided in the emergency department to help ensure patients struggling with mental health issues are properly treated. This gives room for other patients that come into the emergency department that may have potentially life threatening illnesses.

“Partners like Stewart Memorial Community Hospital exemplify the great impact telepsychiatry can have at a community level. Telepsychiatry has been shown to increase access to mental health care in rural areas and we’re pleased to expand that within communities like Lake City,” said InSight’s Operations Director Dena Ferrell.

“Stewart Memorial is always looking to incorporate innovative new programs that help our patients achieve a healthy mind and body. Our partnership with InSight will help better address the behavioral health needs in our community,” said Cindy Carsten, CEO of Stewart Memorial.

Stewart Memorial is served by 13 InSight telepsychiatry providers. All InSight telepsychiatry providers are licensed in Iowa and trained to provide care to Stewart Memorial patients in the same way as all onsite providers. Stewart Memorial’s partnership with InSight will help transform care in the emergency department and increase efficiency so that all patients are able to receive the care they need.

About InSight Telepsychiatry
InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

About Stewart Memorial Community Hospital
Stewart Memorial is committed to quality health and wellness for you and your family. Our goal is to transform our communities by providing coordinated care and exceptional experiences.

[1] Rural Health. (n.d.). Retrieved August 07, 2017, from https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/am-i-rural/report?lat=42.26715&lng=-94.74603&addr=1301 W Main St%2C Lake City%2C IA 51449&exact=1

[2] Fuller, D. A., Sinclair, E., Geller, J., Quanbeck, C., & Snook, J. (n.d.). Going, Going, Gone TRENDS AND CONSEQUENCES OF ELIMINATING STATE PSYCHIATRIC BEDS, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2017, from http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/going-going-gone.pdf

 

Telepsychiatry: Advancing Connected Community Models

By Dr. James Varrell

The concept of “connected community” holds great potential for elevating and improving behavioral health outcomes for all patients. Connected communities proactively address a patient’s whole health—both physical and mental—and benefit from a comprehensive, multi-faceted behavioral health strategy.

Health care leaders recognize the potential of these models to positively impact clinical outcomes and reduce the need for higher-cost interventions by improving access to care at various points along the continuum. Yet, today’s communities often struggle to achieve this framework amid a severe shortage of psychiatric providers.

The reality is 96 percent of U.S. counties have unmet needs for mental and behavioral health services at a time when demand is soaring.1 Current shortages leave those needing care with less-than-optimal choices. People often turn to primary care doctors, or alternatively, opt for no treatment at all—leading to further deterioration or crisis situations that result in costly interventions.

The good news is that direct-to-consumer (D2C) telepsychiatry can help fill these gaps and improve the outlook on connected community models. While D2C is a relatively new concept, other settings across the care continuum have leveraged telepsychiatry for the past two decades, including hospitals, inpatient units, community-based case centers and correctional facilities.

Leveraged through easy-to-use videoconferencing technology, D2C offerings are opening new doors to psychiatric providers for evaluation, consultation and treatment.

D2C Telepsychiatry: Expanding Access And Referral Options

Growth of D2C telepsychiatry in recent years has expanded as patients become more empowered and seek out convenient ways of managing their care. Patients increasingly prefer “anywhere, anytime” options like the D2C model because it enables access to care from the comfort of home—or other private locations—on their own schedule.

This type of care allows providers to be more proactive and address issues before conditions reach what Mental Health America (MHA) refers to as a “stage four” level of severity. In effect, better patient engagement can trigger greater follow-through with care plans and minimize the potential for symptoms and issues to escalate.

Telepsychiatry often gives providers greater insights into their patients’ environments. For instance, a colleague of mine is a therapist in New Jersey, and she’s been treating one of her patients for years in person. When my colleague started using D2C Telepsychiatry, she was able to see her patient online through real-time video calls rather than in person, and noticed right away that her patient was hoarding her belongings. My colleague was able to learn about her patient’s living condition and other factors that influenced her treatment plans. Further, her patient reported feeling more comfortable and at-ease during their appointments.

D2C telepsychiatry also provides more referral options, enabling earlier interventions and greater access to services. While frequently sought out as a mental health alternative, many primary care providers are uncomfortable prescribing psychotropic medications or lack psychiatry expertise.

By providing a reliable behavioral health referral option, D2C telepsychiatry takes the pressure off of primary care providers. Moreover, collaboration and information exchange between the referring physician and D2C provider can allow for more comprehensive care.

Outside of primary care, D2C expands referral options for discharge planning from acute and inpatient settings. The current mental health provider shortage can slow down referral processes, leading to disjointed transitions where patients must “settle” on whatever is available in the nearby area instead of what is best.

Closing The Loop To A Connected Community

Even as health care leaders increasingly embrace telepsychiatry models, most are currently used in siloes across community settings. However, there’s opportunity to leverage existing resources and establish community-wide telepsychiatry networks to connect all appropriate care settings.

This connected community model improves both information sharing between providers and continuity of care for patients. Patients can use telepsychiatry to see the same provider or same network of providers across different care settings or from home with D2C care. In tandem, primary care doctors, community organizations and telepsychiatry providers can better collaborate on patient care.

Telepsychiatry networks not only improve care outcomes, but also create economies of scale. For instance, health care settings can benefit from sharing a telepsychiatry provider network. This option places less pressure on community resources to recruit and retain local behavioral health providers.

Communities can take steps to utilize a telepsychiatry network across care continuums by:

  • Bringing together payers, primary care, hospital systems, outpatient behavioral health, corrections, schools, skilled nursing and other community organizations
  • Assessing their current behavioral health resources to identify gaps and opportunities
  • Setting multiple locations up with technology to access telepsychiatry
  • Establishing a telebehavioral health network of licensed providers who are aware of community services and resources
  • Utilizing shared scheduling tools for booking psychiatric resources and appointments

Telepsychiatry helps address the gaps in behavioral health care across the continuum by proactively treating patients’ whole health through the concept of the connected community. By increasing patient access to care and referral options, this evolving model supports timely, proactive intervention, minimizing the potential need for more costly care and enabling better outcomes.

About The Author

James R. Varrell, M.D. is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who has been practicing telepsychiatry for 18 years and is the Medical Director of InSight Telepsychiatry. InSight’s direct-to-consumer division that accepts patient referrals for psychiatry and therapy is called Inpathy.

Original article published on Health IT Outcomes

InSight Sponsoring ATA Telehealth Capitol Connection Briefing

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) is holding its bi-monthly Telehealth Capitol Connection (TCC) briefing on September 13, 2017, sponsored by InSight Telepsychiatry.

TCC was launched by ATA and their Senior Policy Consultant Neal Neuberger as a result of “growing interest in using telemedicine to improve health care delivery.” The briefing series is open to Congress, federal agencies, national organizations and other interested stakeholders.

This month’s briefing, titled “Bridging the Gap: Connecting Rural Communities to Care” will focus on the topics of major gaps in rural telehealth coverage and rural health broadband needs. Attendees will learn about the role of Medicare in rural areas, and how legislation like the HEART Act (H.R. 2291) can affect access among the occupying populations.

Residents of rural areas are often restricted in health care coverage and access including provider shortages, limited insurance and increased distance to quality care. Medicare plays a critical role in reducing these challenges and increasing access and convenience for underserved populations.

Speakers include:

  • Kathy Wynn, Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Telehealth at LifePoint Hospitals
  • Tim Koxlien, Chief Executive Officer of TeleQuality Communications
  • Diane Calmus, Government Affairs and Policy Manager at National Rural Health Association
  • A member of InSight’s managerial team

The briefing will be moderated by Chrystal A. Riley, PharmaD, MHA, MBA, Senior Manager of Healthcare Policy & Reimbursement, Baxter International, Inc.

The briefing will take place at the Top of the Hill Banquet & Conference Center in Washington, D.C. from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm.

How Telepsychiatry is Carving Out its Healthcare Niche

With a dwindling supply of psychiatrists nationwide, telepsychiatry services are starting to become more mainstream

It was nearly 20 years ago when a clinician (non-james-varrell-225x225psychiatrist) brought up the notion of telepsychiatry to James Varrell, M.D., a licensed psychiatrist himself who at the time didn’t know much about the telemedicine subsector. “This was 1999 and it was like voodoo to me,” Varrell says, adding that after that conversation he needed to do his due diligence and research.

What came from that conversation, and ensuing exploration into telepsychiatry, was a realization that there was more support for it than Varrell initially assumed. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) put out a significant paper in 1995 in support of telepsychiatry, and it was around that time when research began on its ability to facilitate access to care, overcome geographical obstacles and how it compared to in-person care. “All of the go-to organizations in the [industry] have always been supportive of it. Clinicians individually have been skeptical since they’ve never done it. But now, many [places] are incorporating into their residency programs,” Varrell says.

Indeed, folks might not be as familiar with telepsychiatry as they are with other forms of telemedicine, since behavioral health often flies under the radar compared to its physical health brethren. But according to the APA, by the 2000s, the field began to see it as effective, but slightly different, than in-person care, and research in outcome studies provided a platform for practice guidelines, via the American Telemedicine Association.

Varrell says that today’s mental health landscape is characterized by an increased need for services coupled with a dwindling supply of psychiatrists. Indeed, more than 55 percent of U.S. counties are currently without any psychiatrists, and the mental health landscape is facing shortages in more than 4,600 areas, according to Kaiser. Varrell, who has been practicing telepsychiatry for 18 years ever since it was brought up to him back in 1999, now works at telepsychiatry service provider organization InSight, a Marlton, N.J.-based company that he founded in 2008 and where he currently oversees a team of more than 200 psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners—many of whom work full-time doing telepsychiatry.

Speaking to the growth in the sector, Varrell says that his company began with telepsychiatry mostly in ERs where patients in crisis environments were prioritized. But, he notes, “The place more than anywhere where it started to develop was in rural environments, where access to basic psychiatry care would be otherwise inaccessible. That’s still growing,” he says. “Now, the new wave is that we are starting to do integrated care in medical offices, and that was a big push with Obamacare. We think the next trend is in-home services for consumers, which is telepsychiatry direct-to-patients in their homes or wherever they are [in a private space].”

The reason InSight started to provide telepsychiatry services was because it was located in a rural environment, but Varrell says beyond that, there have been valuable lessons learned since the organization’s inception: primarily that telepsychiatry works well for most people in most areas. “For people in crises, you don’t want to do an in-home visitation if they are psychotic or suicidal. You want them in more supported environments like outpatient mental centers or ERs if it’s very acute,” explains Varrell. “Over the years, we have learned that we can accommodate all types of people.”

Among these are: translations [for people who speak] different languages; the geriatric population, for which a great sound system is needed for older folks who have hearing issues; and also for those with cognitive and intellectual disabilities in which the patients’ families are present to make it easier and provide the psychiatrists with the necessary information, says Varrell.

Over the years, telepsychiatry has continued to grow both in volume and acceptance. Varrell notes how educating organizations such as the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University have big electives for all of their psychiatry residents who are mandated to learn telepsychiatry. And, InSight as a sole organization performed more than 100,000 encounters via telepsych in all settings last year (hospitals, clinics, treatment centers, universities), while its in-home platform, Inpathy, is still growing but has around 100 direct-to-consumer sessions in a week, according to officials.

“This is an area that used to be weird and hard, but now people are jumping into it,” says Varrell. “Doctors are calling us all of the time saying they want to work with us. That’s good since there’s a national shortage and we’re often begging doctors to work with us in person, but this is the opposite of that,” he says, noting how on one recent day alone, eight psychiatrists called looking for work.

Original article posted on Healthcare Informatics 

InSight Brings Telepsychiatry Services to the Yellowstone County Detention Facility

BILLINGS, MT – Located in south central Montana, Yellowstone County is Montana’s most populous with an estimated 144,797 residents in 2009, according to the Montana Department of Commerce. The Yellowstone County Detention Facility brings six hours a week of InSight telepsychiatry services to their inmates from Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Renée Brunner Houser.

Renée Brunner Houser, PMHNP, MSN is a Montana licensed psychiatric nurse practitioner who has worked as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and registered nurse in a variety of settings such as psychiatric hospitals, inpatient/outpatient health centers, hospice facilities and public schools. InSight will provide first time evaluations, follow up care, medication management and more.

According the National Alliance on Mental Illness, at least 83% of jail inmates with a mental illness did not have access to needed treatment. In addition, telepsychiatry is found to improve access to mental health services for inmates and save correctional facilities from $12,000 to more than $1 million [1]. InSight brings years of experience in correctional facility psychiatric care to serve Yellowstone’s inmates and increase access to care when they need it the most.


[1] Deslich, S. (2013). Telepsychiatry in Correctional Facilities: Using Technology to Improve Access and Decrease Costs of Mental Health Care in Underserved Populations. The Permanente Journal,17(3), 80-86. doi:10.7812/tpp/12-123

Telepsychiatry Long-Term Partnership a Continued Success

InSight Telepsychiaty and NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare Continue to Reduce Emergency Department Wait Times with Telepsychiatry for 15 Years

MARLTON, NJ — After 15 years of service, InSight Telepsychiatry and NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare continue to provide successful telepsychiatry services to individuals requiring emergency behavioral healthcare.

Winona InSight

As a New Jersey designated screening center, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare provides behavioral health services such as emergency assessments, crisis intervention and referrals to inpatient psychiatric organizations.

The services offered by NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare combine traditional treatment options with telepsychiatry. When an individual enters a screening center during a psychiatric crisis, an on-site behavioral health screener conducts an initial assessment. The screener then meets with an InSight provider through phone or videoconference to determine diagnosis and treatment options. This could include admission, prescribing of medication or referral to follow-up care.

“NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare screeners truly develop a strong rapport with InSight’s providers,” says InSight’s Director of Operations Dena Ferrell, who worked as a behavioral health screener for the organization prior to joining InSight in 2007. “InSight providers really enjoy a friendly and productive working relationship that adds value to this partnership,” she added.

The partnerships success is exemplified through conducting over 200 telepsychiatry sessions in 2015 alone. “We use telepsychiatry 24/7 and most feel just as satisfied as they are with face-to-face psychiatrist sessions,” said Vikki McFadden, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare’s Clinical Coordinator of Psychiatric Emergency Screening. “Before we were able to utilize telepsychiatry clients in other emergency room settings would sometimes wait days to be sent to the screening host,” McFadden added.

“The technology has gotten better,” says Jennifer Plews, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare’s Director of Psychiatric Emergency, describing how telepsychiatry used to be delivered on a heavy cart with a monitor versus a cart that can now be easily pushed with one hand.

As one of InSight’s longest partnerships, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare has seen firsthand how telepsychiatry has evolved. With a mission to provide a spectrum of quality services to maximize individual potential through education and empowerment, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare has served communities in New Jersey for nearly 60 years through more than 16 outpatient behavioral health programs offering effective, affordable psychiatric screenings.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. Forty percent of InSight’s telepsychiatry providers are child and adolescent psychiatrists. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

About NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare

The mission of NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare is to provide a spectrum of quality services to maximize individual potential through education and empowerment. NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare is committed to be the leader of quality mental health services in the region.

St. Joseph’s Villa Receives Telehealth Innovation Award

Telehealth Innovation Award from the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center recognizes effective use of telepyschiatry in the Villa’s Crisis Stabilization Unit.

RICHMOND, VA — St. Joseph’s Villa (SJV) of Richmond, VA received the prestigious Telehealth Innovation Award from the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC). The award recipients were announced on April 3, 2017 during the 2017 MATRC Telehealth Summit. The award is given to organizations that demonstrate an innovative application of telehealth and contribute to improved health outcomes and/or quality of life in the Mid-Atlantic region.

SJV partners with InSight to bring telepsychiatry to children receiving mental health services at their facility. One of SJV’s many innovative and effective programs is their Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), where children experiencing mental health crises can receive treatment in an environment that feels like home — all with the goal of preventing costly, unnecessary hospitalization. Since opening in 2012, the CSU has served nearly 500 children and has successfully diverted nearly 90 percent of them from hospitalization. InSight has helped the CSU work toward this goal for nearly two years with the help of telepsychiatrist Dr. Ashika Kapoor.

As one of the first crisis stabilization units for children and adolescents in Virginia, and one of the first crisis stabilization units in the country to use telepsychiatry, St. Joseph’s Villa exemplifies how combining modern technology and a personal touch can offer a meaningful and potentially life-changing service to patients and families in their time of need. The Villa is able to help children and families through a difficult time in their lives and provide them with opportunities to succeed because they have a telepsychiatry provider.

“St. Joseph’s Villa is committed to providing high quality behavioral health services to children and their families in innovative new settings. Our partnership with InSight has allowed us to expand our provider capacity,” said Kathleen Burke Barrett, CEO of St. Joseph’s Villa.  “We’re delighted that our efforts to provide care beyond the confines of an office were recognized by MATRC.”

Telepsychiatry allows children in the CSU to see psychiatry providers through videoconferencing. It has been proven an effective and cost-conscious way to bring psychiatric care to children and many other populations.[1]  With the option to utilize remote providers, telepsychiatry and other telemedicine services represent unprecedented access to specialists who are typically difficult to staff in rural and underserved areas. When the CSU opened in partnership with the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) Region IV, SJV found that it was challenging to locate a qualified local child psychiatrist. In terms of mental health providers, several of the counties SJV’s CSU serves are Designated Health Professional Shortage Areas, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.  Ultimately, SJV turned to telepsychiatry as the solution for bringing psychiatric care to their facility.

“InSight prides itself on developing partnerships with innovative, like-minded organizations and works hard to find the right fit between our telepsychiatry providers and our partners,” says Geoffrey Boyce, Executive Director of InSight. “Congratulations to St. Joseph’s Villa on this accomplishment and we look forward to sustaining a productive partnership.”

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. Forty percent of InSight’s telepsychiatry providers are child and adolescent psychiatrists. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

About St. Joseph’s Villa

Established in 1834, St. Joseph’s Villa is the longest serving nonprofit for children in the country.  The Villa impacts 3,000 children and families each year facing homelessness, autism and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and other challenges.  Villa programs help them believe in themselves while providing them with the tools they need for long-term independence, stability, and success. For more information, visit www.NeverStopBelieving.org.

[1] Myers, K. M., Valentine, J. M., & Melzer, S. M. (2008). Child and Adolescent Telepsychiatry: Utilization and Satisfaction. Telemedicine and EHealth, 14(2), 131-137. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2007.0035

Telepsychiatry: Reaching More Patients For Better Outcomes

By Dr. Jim Varrell, Medical Director, InSight Telepsychiatry

(Originally Published 3/17/17 on Health IT Outcomes)

A 42-year-old woman with chronic anxiety and agoraphobia found herself unable to leave her apartment. She reached out to her primary care doctor who prescribed Xanax, but the medication was only making her feel worse. Unable to go out in public, she found a telepsychiatry provider who adjusted her medication and dosage, connected her with cognitive behavioral therapy, and helped her reclaim her life.

Health IT Outcomes Every year, about 42.5 million Americans struggle with mental illness — enduring stress, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, mood disorders or other psychological concerns. Despite the availability of treatment most people don’t get the help they need, not necessarily due to stigma or denial, but because they can’t: it’s inconvenient or mental healthcare providers aren’t available in their area or within the time frame they need an appointment. To increase access to behavioral healthcare, people need an alternative to traditional doctor referrals, and telepsychiatry can help. Telepsychiatry is a type of telemedicine that uses videoconferencing to provide psychiatric evaluation, consultation, and treatment.

A Growing Market
A key driver of telepsychiatry is the serious shortage of psychiatry providers and other mental health professionals in the U.S. Today there are more than 4,600 mental health professional shortage areas making it difficult, if not impossible, for patients to access services. People referred to psychiatry providers by their primary care doctors face long and potentially dangerous wait times — often three to seven months or longer.

The situation is even worse for those in need of specialty providers, such as child and adolescent psychiatry providers. Currently, there are only about 8,200 practicing child and adolescent psychiatry providers nationally. To put this in perspective, New Jersey alone would need three times as many practitioners as it now has to adequately support the number of children in the state.

Telepsychiatry also offers the promise of delivering more effective mental healthcare in primary care practices. The burden of mental healthcare often falls on primary care doctors, yet many are unable to provide the most appropriate behavioral health resources. Adequately assessing and treating behavioral health issues requires more time with the patient than many doctors or nurse practitioners are able to spend. Moreover, while it is perfectly acceptable for primary care doctors to not know the ins and outs of mental healthcare, many don’t feel equipped to treat behavioral health conditions themselves because they lack specialized training. But without referral options, primary care doctors are often forced to do so. Many practices are overwhelmed with changes in how care is delivered and reimbursed, and under pressure to maximize time with patients, making it difficult for doctors to do it all.

Meeting Behavioral Healthcare Needs

Quality: Telepsychiatry is leading the way in telemedicine for delivering high quality care that meets the standard of traditional in-person care. The American Psychiatric Association supports the use of telepsychiatry as long as it is used in the best interest of the patient and complies with medical ethics and federal privacy and security regulations. It supports the patient-doctor relationship required by law to prescribe medications with documentation — a process identical to the traditional outpatient setting. For these reasons as well, it is increasingly reimbursable by insurance plans.

Continuity of care: In addition to meeting care standards, telepsychiatry positively impacts continuity of care by providing greater accessibility to psychiatry providers. It meets patients where they are. Many patient populations including children, college students, and veterans respond well to this form of treatment, especially since they can maintain the relationship with their same psychiatric provider regardless of location. Other studies have found telepsychiatry can positively impact care for seniors and nursing home residents, reducing costs for the facility as well as improving access to needed care. Age has not been found to be a barrier to acceptance and most seniors readily accept the format.

Access to care: Telepsychiatry is one of the most effective ways to increase access to care for individuals who might otherwise go without. Providing access to specialists for people in rural and remote areas is a challenge. Telepsychiatry offers a practical and cost-efficient way for psychiatry providers to reach these patients. The logistical benefits extend to those in urban centers as well. In light of the dramatic provider shortage, resources are scarce in all settings driving up wait times and commutes to be seen in-person. Telepsychiatry allows existing behavioral health providers to see more people at more flexible times. Many providers who offer telepsychiatry services do so during off-hours to meet the needs of consumers who have trouble finding time for commutes and waiting rooms, or who have trouble leaving their homes.

Cost-effective: Behavioral health issues cost $135 billion every year — almost as much as heart disease and cancer treatment combined. Telepsychiatry can help lower costs for both psychiatry providers and their patients. Studies have found telepsychiatry incurs fewer direct and indirect costs than in-person services saving on provider time, medical supplies, technology, and reimbursement, as well as costs associated with the clinical space, administrative support, travel, and time off work. Nowhere is this savings more pronounced than in the rural setting where telepsychiatry has been found to reduce costs by as much as 40 percent. For hospitals and inpatient residential programs required to provide patients with follow-up care options, telepsychiatry can help ensure a seamless care transition with proactive post-discharge outreach, reducing potential penalties for providers under value-based care.

A Solution For Better Outcomes
Telepsychiatry meets patients’ needs for convenient, flexible, and accessible mental health services, helping improve patient outcomes. The convenience of online appointments makes patients more likely to attend their behavioral health sessions than if they were seeing a provider in person — and when people are consistent in managing their behavioral health, their physical health also improves. It also gives patients more options to find the right provider for them and the care that meets their specific needs, and allows typically underserved groups to access care. This combined with less travel time, less time off work and shorter wait times for services means people get the care they need sooner, are more engaged in their health and happier with their experience of care.

About The Author
James R. Varrell, M.D. has been practicing telepsychiatry for 18 years and is the Medical Director of InSight Telepsychiatry.

New Jersey Awards Virtua $290,000 to Serve Veterans Via Telehealth

Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Health announced a $290,000 telehealth grant to Virtua Health on January 27 that will assist veterans who need access to primary and behavioral healthcare services but may face mobility or transportation challenges.

By coordinating care with Oaks Integrated Care, Legacy Treatment Services and InSight Telepsychiatry, Virtua will offer primary and behavioral health visits conducted via online technology starting February 1.

Stigma, negative ideas about seeking help, perceptions of the Veterans Administration (VA) and a lack of access due to geography and transportation issues make it difficult for veterans to visit a doctor in person. Some medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brain injury, spinal cord injury and other psychiatric disorders further complicate the ability for travel. 

“For many veterans, travel to see a healthcare provider can be complicated and overwhelming, particularly in areas where transportation options might be limited,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “Telehealth can ease the burden by offering long-distance virtual care to veterans while they remain in a comfortable environment.”

Telehealth includes telepsychology, telepsychiatry, telebehavioral health, e-counseling, e-therapy, online therapy and cybercounseling. If veterans have other needs such as housing, employment or transportation, Virtua will seek to connect them to appropriate services.

One in five homeless Americans are veterans. One in three homeless men are veterans, and about 60 percent of homeless veterans are minorities. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have an unemployment rate approximately 40 percent greater than the general population.

Veterans have disproportionate rates of mental illness, particularly PTSD, substance abuse disorders, depression and anxiety. Nearly half of combat veterans from Iraq report that they have suffered from PTSD, and about 40 percent of these veterans report problems with alcohol use.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter at twitter.com/NJDeptofHealth and on Facebook at facebook.com/NJDeptofHealth.

Billings Clinic is now Bringing After-hours Psychiatric Care to its Emergency Department and Inpatient Unit Through Partnership with InSight Telepsychiatry

Jan. 17, 2017 | Billings Clinic of Billings, Montana, has partnered with InSight Telepsychiatry to bring after-hours telepsychiatry services to their emergency department and inpatient unit, an innovative program which will ensure individuals in need of psychiatric treatment at Billings Clinic will have access to timely, quality care.

BILLINGS, MT — Billings Clinic, Montana’s largest healthcare organization, and InSight Telepsychiatry are pleased to announce a new partnership to increase inpatient and emergency psychiatric coverage.

The program is designed to lessen wait times for psychiatric evaluations, admission, and treatment decisions.  The partnership gives Billings Clinic staff access to a team of remote psychiatrists who can do psychiatric evaluations, follow-up consultations and medical consultations through telehealth using video calls. Nurses and emergency department physicians can now connect patients with a remote telepsychiatry provider in as little as an hour.

The telepsychiatry program runs from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., 7 days per week. Since, psychiatric emergencies often happen at night or on weekends, this schedule means that individuals in crisis are able to get the care they need more quickly.

The program is a result of a partnership between Billings Clinic and InSight Telepsychiatry, the leading national telepsychiatry organization and partner of MHA Ventures, a subsidiary of the Montana Hospital Association. Montana, like many other states across the country, struggles to have sufficient psychiatric coverage in its hospitals and clinics due to a national shortage of psychiatrists.

At nearly double the national average, Montana has the highest suicide rate in the United States with more than 23 suicides per 100,000 people[1]. Additionally, over 75% of Montana’s population has inadequate access to psychiatry[2]. So with the option to utilize remote providers, telepsychiatry and other telemedicine services represent unprecedented access to specialists who are typically difficult to recruit in rural and underserved areas.

“Really, the best thing about a program like this one,” says InSight’s Medical Director Jim Varrell, MD, “is that Montanans now have access to psychiatric services where they may not have had previously.”

”This partnership is another step for Billings Clinic toward improving mental health care for people in crisis,” said Lyle Seavy, Billings Clinic Director of Psychiatry, “We are addressing those peak times when staffing is a challenge to help meet the needs of our patients, help reduce strain on our staff and help improve the experience for people in a mental health crisis.”

As a result of the partnership, the telepsychiatry program is expected to expand into additional Billings Clinic facilities.

In addition to facility-based models of telepsychiatry, InSight is also working with the Montana chapter of Mental Health America to offer telemental health care to individuals in their home or other private spaces online.

About Billings Clinic

Billings Clinic is Montana’s largest health system serving Montana, Wyoming and the western Dakotas. A not-for-profit organization led by a physician CEO, Billings Clinic is governed by a board of community members, nurses and physicians. At its core, Billings Clinic is a physician-led, integrated multispecialty group practice with a 285-bed hospital and Level II trauma center. Billings Clinic has more than 4,000 employees, including more than 400 physicians and advanced practitioners offering more than 50 specialties. More information can be found at www.billingsclinic.com.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

 


[1] Suicide: Montana 2016 Facts and Figures. (2016). In American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Retrieved January 12, 2017, from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/state-fact-sheets/#Montana

[2] Mental Health Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). (2016, September 8). In Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/?currentTimeframe=0

InSight Telepsychiatry Supports Creativity and Innovation During Psychiatry Innovation Lab Event

Oct. 19, 2016 | InSight Telepsychiatry was proud to support three awards during the Psychiatry Innovation Lab at IPS: The Mental Health Services Conference organized by the American Psychiatric Association.

Washington, D.C. — InSight Telepsychiatry awarded three finalists for innovative ideas in the advancement of behavioral health care during the Psychiatry Innovation Lab at IPS: The Mental Health Services Conference organized by the American Psychiatric Association.

Chaired by psychiatrist and author Dr. Nina Vasan, the Psychiatry Innovation Lab is an educational workshop that fosters the advancement of health care delivery. The lab offers the opportunity for professionals in technology, business, medicine, government and nonprofits to connect and collaborate with psychiatrists and mental health professionals.

On Oct. 8, participants pitched ideas for the advancement of behavioral health care delivery by way of entrepreneurship, policy, systems redesign, education, collaboration, technology and more. InSight awarded a total of three of the six awards presented at the event.

A team of neuropsychiatry-minded high school students was awarded Outstanding Progress for their work on AlzHelp, an augmented-reality and intelligent personal assistant app that keeps individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease safe. The app was designed by Akanksha Jain, Michelle Koh and Priscilla Siow.

Presented by mental health care entrepreneur April Koh, Spring.com was awarded the Most Promising Innovation for enabling the prediction of treatment outcomes for depression by way of machine-learning and big data.

The last award supported by InSight went to a group called Beacon led by Shrenik Jain for the Most Disruptive Innovation. Beacon is a mobile application for chat-based group therapy that has participated in a diverse selection of health care technology initiatives. A consistent group of anonymous users come together in judgement-free communities with this group therapy app.

Other winners included: The grand prize winner Joseph Insler for his “overdose recovery bracelet” and the audience choice Swathi Krishna for SPECTRUM, an app for children with autism spectrum disorder.

As the leading national telepsychiatry organization, InSight is proud to support a workshop that cultivates the advancement of behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology. InSight provides psychiatric care through innovative applications of technology by providing telepsychiatry services to hospitals, outpatient clinics and other health care organizations nationwide.

New Psychiatric Practice in New York Allows Individuals to Get Their Mental Wellness On(line)

Telebehavioral health allows individuals to attend sessions with behavioral and mental health providers online through secure videoconferencing. Inpathy is a division of InSight Telepsychiatry, the largest telebehavioral health organization in the nation.

Inpathy providers include adult and child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners that are available for psychiatric assessments, medication management and prescriptions when appropriate. Therapists and counselors are also available for talk therapy sessions through telehealth.

Many of the Inpathy telebehavioral health providers offer night and weekend appointments, which can be accessed through the internet from home using a smartphone, tablet or a computer with a webcamera. This makes managing behavioral health care more convenient by eliminating the need to travel to in-person appointments and sit in waiting rooms. Another benefit of telebehavioral health is that it is a more private way to access behavioral health services, which makes it a good option for individuals who are worried about a stigma on behavioral or mental health care.

Just like in an in-person office, the telebehavioral health providers who deliver services through Inpathy are fully supported by a clinical and administrative staff that handles their scheduling, billing, intake, general operations and clinical oversight.
Inpathy accepts insurance from several major insurance companies, including Aetna. For in-network telebehavioral health sessions, individuals are only charged their co-pay just like they would be for an in-person session. Inpathy providers are also available for out-of-network and cash-pay appointments.

“There is a huge shortage of psychiatrists across the nation,” says Geoffrey Boyce, executive director at InSight. “Telepsychiatry and telebehavioral health offer a unique solution for making psychiatry appointments easier to book and attend.”

Inpathy has telebehavioral health appointments available with many New York-licensed providers, including the following:

  • Doug Ikelheimer, MD- an extremely experienced telepsychiatrist with expertise in the psychopharmacologic management of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, chronic mental illness and addictions
  • Catherine Newton, LCSW – a licesnsed clinical social worker who specializes in working with individuals who have experienced trauma and is trained in Eye Movement Desensitiazation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Ragy Girgis, MD – a board certified psychiatrist with an interest in the psychopharmalcologic management of schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and eating disorders in adults
  • Hinna Shah, MD – a board certified adult and child and adolescent psychiatrist with experience working with individuals who have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD
  • Liz Espinoza, LCSW – a Spanish-speaking licensed clinical social worker who is interested in helping individuals achieve life goals and specializes in anger management, relationship, communication and life transition issues

Telehealth is a rapidly growing industry and more and more insurance companies and providers are offering this form of care. Numerous studies have shown telebehavioral health to be as effective as in-person behavioral health services in most situations.

To get started as an individual using telebehavioral health care, individuals can visit http://www.inpathy.com to search the Inpathy provider directory, sign up, select an appropriate provider and schedule a session. Inpathy has a 24-hour technical support line and care navigation team that can be reached at 1.800.442.8938.

InSight is also in the process of developing referral relationships with a number of New York organizations that could benefit from additional behavioral health services for their clients. To learn more about this or connect individuals you know to care, visit http://www.inpathy.com.

Cathy Newton

Choosing Behavioral Health Care

If you think that you or someone you care for may benefit from psychotherapy or another form of behavioral health treatment, the best place to start is with your primary care provider. Discuss your symptoms with them and ask them if it would be best for you to pursue care from a specialized psychiatry or therapy provider. They usually will have a list of organizations they partner with for in-person care, but you can always discus online care options with telehealth providers, like Inpathy.

You can also schedule a session with a behavioral health provider directly through a number of online resources and tools. Websites like ZocDoc.com and Healthgrades.com both have extensive databases and profiles of providers across the United States. Many insurance companies have databases of physicians who take their insurance, along with short profiles. You can also meet with a psychiatry or therapy provider directly from home using online video calls, which may be a good option if finding time to schedule an appointment is usually a daunting and stressful process. You can read more about the telehealth option InSight offers here.

Spend time with these resources reading through profiles and considering what you’re looking for in a provider. Perhaps there’s a specialty you’d like to look into like child and adolescent or addiction psychiatry? Maybe you’re interested in learning more about a type of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy, and you’d like to find a provider who specializes in it. Check out the Types of Providers page for more information on the different kinds of behavioral health providers.

Whatever source you choose to find a provider, you should meet in person with at least two or three providers before deciding on who you’d like to see regularly. Make it clear with each provider initially that you are identifying options and that this is an early stage in your journey. Meeting with multiple providers will give you a chance to compare what you do and do not like about each, allowing you to make a more informed choice overall.

Ask questions. When meeting with a new provider, ask them questions about their practice and specialties. Here are a few sample questions to ask:

  • How long have they been in practice?
  • How much experience do they have with clients like you? With your specific issues?
  • What kind of training did they receive?
  • What kind of approach to treatment do they prefer?

The Bottom Line:
Above all else, you are a consumer of services in this matter. Do not be intimidated by the idea of seeking professional help, or think that because these are specialists, they are infallible. Providers are human beings too, and some will be a better fit for you than others.

Spectrum Health & Wellness Partners with InSight Telepsychiatry to Increase Access to Psychiatric Care in Franklin County

December 18, 2016 | Spectrum Health and Wellness of Chambersburg, PA has launched a new program to enhance their existing psychiatric services with telepsychiatry providers from InSight Telepsychiatry. This innovative program will ensure that individuals seeking psychiatric treatment at Spectrum Health & Wellness have access to the quality psychiatric care they need.

Chambersburg, PA— Spectrum Health & Wellness is pleased to announce that they now have increased psychiatric coverage in their outpatient behavioral health services. Spectrum Health & Wellness, LTD offers a range of psychiatric and behavioral health services including psychiatric evaluations and psychotherapy in a community setting.

The new scheduled telepsychiatry services allow coverage for psychiatric evaluations, follow-up consultations and medication monitoring for Franklin County residents.

The program is a result of a collaboration between Spectrum Health & Wellness and InSight Telepsychiatry. When an individual comes to Spectrum Health & Wellness requiring psychiatric care, the onsite staff can now connect them with a remote telepsychiatry provider from InSight for regularly scheduled services. InSight’s telepsychiatry provider will be available in regularly scheduled blocks of time to meet with healthcare consumers for services or with onsite staff for consultation.

The relationship between the InSight telepsychiatry provider and onsite staff is vital to the success of this program. Since June 2015, telepsychiatry provider Melanie Pointer, MD has been working with the Spectrum Health & Wellness team.

“InSight believes in the importance of integrating our services into the existing model of care and works hard to find the right fit between our psychiatrists and the partners they serve,” says Geoffrey Boyce, Executive Director of InSight. “Integrating Dr. Pointer onto the Spectrum team has been a wonderful success.”

“Dr. Pointer has been a wonderful complement to our telepsychiatry services. She quickly related to both our unique member population and our staff. Her professionalism and dedication to our agency is beyond comparison,” said Dinen Sanders, Clinical Director at Spectrum.

Because of the option to utilize remote providers, telepsychiatry and other telemedicine services represent unprecedented access to specialists who are typically difficult to staff in rural and underserved areas. A striking 96% of US counties, including Franklin County, where Spectrum Health & Wellness is located, have a shortage of psychiatric prescribers . With the new telepsychiatry program, individuals will not only have more access to high-quality care, but to care that’s appropriate for their specific needs.

Sanders says the program is focused primarily on being able to offer the same quality of care as the onsite doctor services, but with a quicker turnaround time for the patient who is willing to accept telepsychiatry services.

“We’re excited that this program will reduce the stress put on our internal team and help the people we treat get care that meets their needs. “

“Because we’re rural, our system of care has to make use of every viable option,” says Sanders. “Since implementing this program we’ve seen a definitive increase in the amount of people we are able to help.”

InSight Telepsychiatry is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider with a mission to increase access to appropriate behavioral health care.

Telepsychiatry 101 | What Healthcare Organizations Need to Know

Telepsychiatry is a proven medium for increasing psychiatric capacity at single facilities and across entire systems. Through telemedicine, your organization can access psychiatric coverage without the recruiting, logistical and financial burdens that the onsite provision of those services would require. This white paper covers everything organizations implementing telebehavioral health need to know to make the most of this exciting development in health care service delivery.

Download this white paper.