Thomas Health Launches Telepsychiatry Program at Saint Francis Hospital

Charleston, WV – Saint Francis Hospital, part of Thomas Health, recently launched a new outpatient telepsychiatry program to increase access to psychiatric appointments for people in the Charleston community seeking mental health and substance use treatment.  The telepsychiatry program is launched in partnership with InSight, a national telepsychiatry service provider organization.

Telepsychiatry is the delivery of psychiatry through real time videoconferencing. It is proven to be an effective form of care delivery and a convenient, cost-effective way to safely expand psychiatric support without the challenge of staffing an in-person psychiatry provider.

Mental health and substance use are top concerns in West Virginia, as these disorders affect many individuals throughout the state.  Further compounding the problem, there is a significant shortage of mental health professionals in the state, so many residents are not receiving the treatment they need.  To fully appreciate the need for mental health and substance use treatment in West Virginia, consider the following statistics:

  • The suicide rate in West Virginia is 27% higher than the national rate[1]
  • Approximately 8.26% of the population has had a major depressive episode, this is the highest in the United States[2]
  • 53% of residents with any mental illness do not receive treatment or counseling[3]
  • Statewide, there are 157 psychiatrists which comes out to 11,818 people per provider[4]
  • There are 117 mental health professional shortage areas across the state with only 19% of the state need for mental health services being met. In order to adequately meet the need, the state needs 129 more mental health providers[5]
  • West Virginia has the highest rate of age-adjusted overdose deaths involving opioids at 49.6 deaths per 100,000 people. The national rate is 14.6 deaths per 100,000 people[6]
  • Between 2010-2014, 86% of individuals aged 12 or older with substance use disorder did not receive treatment[7]

“We recognized the need and are excited to be able to offer this innovative new service to our patients. We are dedicated to increasing access to psychiatric care to anyone in our community who would benefit from it.  Given the shortage of psychiatry providers in our area and across the state, we believe telepsychiatry is a way to ensure our patients with mental health and substance use disorders get the quality care that they need,” said Lora Dunn, Administrative Director of Behavioral Health at Thomas Health System.

“Telepsychiatry gives communities unprecedented access to behavioral health care specialists. We are pleased to partner with Thomas Health to offer this service.  Telepsychiatry is a great solution, not only in West Virginia, but also in many other states across the nation where there is significant mental health need and a shortage of psychiatry providers” said Shawn Ball, Chief Operating Officer at InSight.

 About Thomas Health System

Thomas Health is a partnership built on the strengths between Thomas Memorial Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital, bringing over 100 years of compassionate quality health care to the Kanawha Valley. Thomas Health is to be the trusted, personal choice for wellness and quality care, focused on optimal individual health. Thomas Health offers a range of patient focused service lines creating value for patients, physicians and payers through committed healthcare professionals delivering a compassionate exceptional patient experience, superior clinical outcomes and fiscal stewardship to enhance the health and wellness of the communities we serve.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology. InSight’s psychiatry providers bring care into multiple settings on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has two decades of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

[1] https://www.arc.gov/images/appregion/fact_sheets/HealthDisparities2017/WVHealthDisparitiesKeyFindings8-17.pdf
[2] https://datausa.io/profile/geo/south-charleston-wv/
[3] https://www.arc.gov/images/appregion/fact_sheets/HealthDisparities2017/WVHealthDisparitiesKeyFindings8-17.pdf
[4] https://www.aamc.org/download/152190/data/west_virginia.pdf
[5] https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D
[6] https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/west-virginia-opioid-summary
[7] https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/2015_West-Virginia_BHBarometer.pdf