Telepsychiatry Program Increases Patient Access to Behavioral Health Care

In recent years, many communities have struggled to address their citizen’s behavioral health needs due to a national shortage of psychiatrists.

Beebe Medical Center progressively recognized that telepsychiatry was an innovative and effective way to address this problem. Telepsychiatry is defined as psychiatric care delivered via video conferencing technology.

Because telepsychiatry removes many of the barriers to fast and effective care, behavioral health patients at Beebe Medical Center will now be able to quickly receive psychiatric evaluations and care from psychiatrists regardless of the time of day or severity of their condition. The new program will improve the quality of care for patients, cut ER wait times, and reduce unnecessary patient transfers.

The program is brought to Beebe Medical Center through a partnership with InSight Telepsychiatry, a national telepsychiatry provider with 12 years of experience in the industry.

InSight’s team aided Beebe in the adoption and implementation of their new telepsychiatry program.

According to the executive director of InSight, Geoffrey Boyce, telepsychiatry is not intended to replace face-to-face care, but rather to augment existing services in order to improve patient care.

“Telepsychiatry gives communities unprecedented access to behavioral health care specialists. So many health care teams are understaffed and overworked, but with InSight’s unique emergency telepsychiatry services there is always going to be a psychiatrist available to see patients regardless of distance or time,” said Boyce.

Academic and clinical research has found that both patient and health care providers consider telepsychiatry an effective and successful alternative to face-to-face care in a variety of settings. Studies have shown telepsychiatry to compare favorably with in person care in terms of validity, reliability, and ability to communicate.1

Bebee Medical Center will use InSight’s telepsychiatry services to provide timely psychiatric consultation liaison services to medical patients throughout the hospital. Bebee will also use telepsychiatry in the emergency department where over half of all hospital admissions begin.

“We have seen telepsychiatry improve emergency room throughput at every hospital we serve. Telepsychiatry saves time for everyone; patients who require psychiatric attention are able to see a professional and get evaluated quickly rather than occupy ER beds for hours or even days as they wait for assessment and disposition,” said Boyce, who anticipates equally positive results at Bebee Medical Center.

Bebee and InSight will work in partnership with the Delaware Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (DSAMHA) to assess the most appropriate and least restrictive level of care for behavioral health patients within the emergency department in order to reduce inappropriate admissions.

Telemedicine and Telepsychiatry programs have the attention and support of health care leaders throughout Delaware including Rita M. Landgraf, Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services.

Other state officials and policy makers have worked to advocate and implement telepsychiatry in Delaware include Steve Dettwyler, State Mental Health Director; Kevin Huckshorn, Delaware Director of Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health; and David Ciamaricone, Senior Social Service Administrator.

About Beebe: Beebe Medical Center, located in Lewes, Delaware, is a community-owned, not-for-profit hospital with 210 licensed beds. Beebe Medical Center provides the community with progressive and comprehensive medical care that includes a Joint Commission certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center, an open-heart surgery program, cardiac intervention, cancer treatment, orthopedic surgery, including Joint Commission certified knee and hip replacement surgery programs, women’s health and emergency medicine. It has numerous outpatient facilities in satellite locations and the only hospital-based school of nursing in Delaware. The Medical Staff consists of more than 200 physicians from over 30 medical specialties.

About InSight: InSight Telepsychiatry, LLC is a national leader in delivering telepsychiatry services. InSight provides its partners with a network of telepsychiatry clinicians who augment existing in person services to bring evaluation and care where consumers may otherwise go without. InSight specializes in emergency psychiatric evaluations to aid hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric crisis centers. Within an hour of a request, InSight will connect staff from an emergency room or psychiatric crisis center with one of its psychiatric clinicians to conduct a psychiatric evaluation. InSight’s focus is on improving emergency department disposition. By enabling psychiatric evaluations to be done by the highest level of professional available, InSight’s services help every patient quickly receive the least restrictive and most appropriate level of care. InSight is a part of the CFG Health Network and a sister organization to CFG Health Systems, LLC which provides services to correctional facilities in the Northeast.

1. Hilty, Donald M., M.D., Marks, Shayna, L., Urness, Doug M.D., Yellowlees, Peter M. M.D., and Nesbitt, Thomas S. (2004). Clinical And Educational Telepsychiatry Applications: A Review. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(1), 12-23.