Innovative ACT Program Utilizing Telepsychiatry to Be Highlighted at American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference
May 17, 2016 | Representatives from Resources for Human Development and InSight Telepsychiatry will discuss a first-of-its-kind program that brings telepsychiatry to individuals with severe mental illness receiving care through assertive community treatment programs in Delaware.
Speakers representing Resources for Human Development (RHD) and InSight Telepsychiatry will highlight their unique use of telepsychiatry in two Delaware assertive community treatment (ACT) programs at the American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference on May 17.
InSight telepsychiatrist Shelley Sellinger, MD, and RHD’s Unit Director in Delaware Laura Marvel will present a case study detailing the organizations’ development of a telepsychiatry program for RHD’s ACT teams in Wilmington and Dover, Del., the first program of its kind in the nation. Marvel, who has spent the past 15 years working in Delaware’s mental health system, was a driving force behind the creation of the program. Dr. Sellinger provides 32 hours of scheduled telepsychiatry services per week to RHD’s Dover program from her home office in New York.
Using 4G-enabled laptops and tablets, RHD social workers can bring remote telepsychiatry providers directly to the homes of individuals with severe mental illness participating in RHD’s ACT programs. These in-home visits are used in conjunction with office visits where a telepsychiatrists is also a part of the care team.
ACT programs bring together counselors, psychiatrists, registered nurses, case managers and vocational specialists to help individuals whose mental health conditions cause them significant challenges in working, maintaining social relationships, living independently and managing their health. These providers work with individuals to identify what is preventing them from living a successful life and facilitate independence. The ACT model of care was developed in the early 1970s and was widely adopted in communities across the countries by the end of the decade.
In 2012, Delaware awarded ACT contracts in Dover and Wilmington to RHD, a national human services nonprofit organization, with the goal of discharging consumers from inpatient units and providing them with intensive, 24/7 outpatient care. However, Delaware’s shortage of available psychiatry providers, which reflects national shortages, made it challenging for members RHD’s ACT provider team to come together regularly.
To address this problem, RHD took a unique approach, partnering with InSight the next year to incorporate telepsychiatry into their ACT programs.
The two organizations created a telepsychiatry pilot with two groups of 100 individuals, who were transported to RHD’s two ACT offices to meet with a psychiatrist via videoconference. By using telepsychiatry, RHD maintains a team approach to care, and psychiatry providers maximize the number of individuals they see, since they no longer have to spend time traveling from site to site.
Once RHD and InSight established the efficacy and acceptability of telepsychiatry with individuals in the office-based pilot program, they expanded the program to be able to meet individuals in the community. Instead of bringing individuals to see a telepsychiatrist in their offices, RHD could bring the telepsychiatrist to individuals in their homes or other community spaces using 4G-enabled laptops and tablets.
Today, RHD’s Delaware ACT programs use telepsychiatry both in and outside of their offices. Dr. Sellinger sees individuals in their homes a few times a week via telepsychiatry. She says that iPads have helped increase the volume of in-home telepsychiatry encounters and that individuals love it when she comes to them via the devices.
Seeing individuals in their home environments helps more accurately assess their needs, says Dr. Sellinger. “When you see them in their home, you see if it’s clean or messy, and their family is there,” Dr. Sellinger says. “You really get a sense of what’s going on with them.”
Dr. Sellinger can then use these environmental and social cues as clinical indicators to help her prescribe the best possible treatment for that particular individual.
“Despite the fact that individuals and Dr. Sellinger do not meet in the same location, both parties tend to forget that they’re seeing each other through screens,” says Kathleen Gainey, a registered nurse at RHD’s ACT office in Dover who works with Dr. Sellinger. “It’s as if she’s there in person,” she says of Dr. Sellinger and her ability to connect with individuals.
In-home telepsychiatry from InSight isn’t limited to ACT programs. InSight’s Inpathy network makes it possible for consumers to connect with behavioral health professionals, including many psychiatrists from home.
InSight and RHD’s ATA presentation will take place on May 17 at 4:15 p.m. in room 205A.
InSight will also have two booths at ATA, booth 1909 and booth 515.
For more information, to connect with InSight at ATA, or to schedule a time for a meeting with an InSight representative, contact Olivia Boyce at oboyce(at)in-sight(dot)net or 770.713.4161.