Access to prompt, high-quality care is of the utmost importance for psychiatric patients seeking treatment in the emergency department (ED). However, with a nationwide psychiatrist shortage, patients are left waiting for care in EDs across the country. Fortunately, telepsychiatry can help.
Telepsychiatry is a seamless solution that helps health systems provide timely care to psychiatric patients while increasing throughput for EDs. Read on to learn the five common questions healthcare organizations consider when investing in this solution.
How does the telepsychiatry process work in the ED?
Initiating a telepsychiatry consult is similar to calling any other consult in the ED. Here’s how it works:
Step one: A clinician evaluates the patient and determines whether or not they need a psychiatric consultation.
Step two: If they do, the clinician enters the essential information into a paging system, and an assistant in the ED takes a telehealth cart into the patient’s room.
Step three: From this point, the consult is nearly identical to a standard face-to-face consult. After the evaluation, the telepsychiatrist promptly calls a designated individual (such as a social worker) to discuss the basics of the patient’s presentation.
Step four: Next, the telepsychiatrist connects to the telehealth cart and speaks with the patient in real-time. The psychiatrist develops a treatment plan that typically includes a disposition and communicates this plan with the attending ED doctor.
Step five: Finally, the psychiatrist writes a note directly into an organization’s EMR, and the consultation is complete.
With five simple steps, telepsychiatry can facilitate a seamless process for providers, patients, and the organization at large.
Can telepsychiatry integrate within any health system?
High-quality telepsychiatry solutions can be seamlessly implemented into an organization’s existing equipment, including their EMR, prescribing system, and protocols for managing operations. At Iris Telehealth, we’ve found this is a crucial step to help minimize disruption. We act as a technology-agnostic addition to an organization’s team by becoming familiar with and integrating into their existing systems and workflows, and we ensure all staff are trained on best practices for using technology and are comfortable with it.
What type of equipment do health systems need for telepsychiatry?
The equipment required for telepsychiatry is relatively simple. The nature of psychiatry (which requires a person to person connection, but no mandatory physical assessment) makes it a well-suited field for telehealth as there’s not much equipment needed beyond a computer. If an organization already has existing equipment – ranging anywhere from telehealth carts to laptops and tablets available for use – chances are a telepsychiatry solution like Iris can implement with your current systems without any additional work and without your care team having to learn how to use new tools.
How long do we have to wait for the doctor?
In most cases, the wait is less than 30-minutes from the initiation of a consultation to the psychiatrist being at the patient’s bedside. Timing is essential in all areas of medicine, but it is critical within emergency medicine. For high-quality patient care, things must run efficiently to allow the timely delivery of services to your patients.
A good telepsychiatry partner should have systems in place to initiate a telepsychiatry consultation as quickly as possible. With an active and dynamic call pool of dedicated psychiatrists or other appropriate behavioral health providers (including LCSWs and PMHNPs), organizations can ensure a system that consistently puts a provider at the patient’s bedside in under 30-minutes.
What makes for a successful ED telepsychiatry program?
Cultural fit can make a significant difference in the success of your telepsychiatry program. That’s why it’s essential to partner with a telepsychiatry vendor who aligns with your vision and values. This compatibility is vital at every level, from the leadership team to clinicians. In fact, at Iris, we’ve discovered that provider match is essential to the success of a telepsychiatry program. Our process connects healthcare organizations with providers, thoughtfully, based on experience and need. This process allows us to ensure an organization’s population get’s the specialty care they need, and providers can work within their specializations – allowing everyone to get the most value.
Telepsychiatry groups are only as good as their providers. We work with the best psychiatrists, PMHNPs, and LCSWs in the field who learn the needs and goals of an organization’s ED. Over time, we’ve found that our providers can build authentic relationships with an organization’s staff and truly become integrated members of their treatment team.
Get started with telepsychiatry today
At Iris, we ensure your ED is set up for success and help facilitate an implementation process that’s smooth and straightforward. Once complete, your patients will have 24/7 access to a behavioral health provider and spend less time in the ED waiting for care. Telepsychiatry is a powerful platform that delivers quick access to the high-quality care patients need when they need it – whether at home, in an outpatient clinic, or a hospital.
If you would like to learn more about how you can optimize your behavioral health strategy in the ED, contact us today.