How Integrating Scheduled Services Benefits Inpatient Care

How Integrating Scheduled Services Benefits Inpatient Care

Depressive disorder is the most common cause of hospitalization among patients under age 18. However, the shortage of behavioral health providers in this setting makes meeting patients with timely care challenging.

study from the Mayo Clinic found that, of 2,300 U.S. hospitals surveyed, 54% had no psychiatrist on staff or available for medical ED or inpatient consultations. When admissions for active psychiatric patients were needed, 59% of hospitals transferred them to another hospital – creating leakage within the health system.

For patients who stay within the hospital system and need care over 30 days, Beckers Healthcare highlights that it can create additional healthcare costs of $2,265 per stay. 

However, effective and efficient behavioral health integration can help decrease costs and improve patient experience. In their annual Environmental Scan, the American Hospital Association (AHA), shares that an inpatient integrated behavioral health model resulted in a 159% return on investment, and a study of six primary care practices found integration reduced ED visits by 14.2%. 

Integrating virtual care partnerships to support inpatient psychiatric units offers a simple solution to a complicated problem and helps keep patients from falling through care gaps. By bringing in a virtual behavioral health provider, patients can get the care they need, health systems can avoid leakage, and provider time can be used more effectively.

Integrating virtual care into the inpatient psychiatric unit

Making virtual care available in your inpatient psychiatric unit, your health system can alleviate staffing challenges, transform the patient and provider experience, and assist their on-site providers with behavioral health clinicians.

Teams are connected with a dedicated provider who serves the hospital on a consistent basis each week.

The American Hospital Association

Virtual care technology saves patients time and money, reduces patient transfers, emergency department and urgent care center visits, and delivers savings to payers. In addition, telehealth helps address physician burnout by reducing clinicians’ drive times and allowing more time for patients.

Virtual behavioral health care allows organizations to recruit from a larger pool of providers than they might not otherwise have access to in their geographic region. This capability allows patients to get the quality care they need for complex behavioral health conditions.

We call our virtual solution for this Scheduled Services, which ensures access to high-quality behavioral health providers who are dedicated to our partner healthcare organizations on a consistent schedule and are matched to the needs of their communities and care teams. This approach creates continuity of care for patients with complex behavioral health conditions. Additionally, virtual behavioral health providers have flexibility and can provide the same consistency that an on-site provider can and doesn’t position patients to have to repeatedly tell their stories.

Virtual behavioral health providers can round virtually and work weekends and nights – whenever care is needed. This flexibility also enables care team integration and allows providers to attend team meetings and be available to other clinicians just as they would if they were in-person. Virtual providers can collaborate, join team huddles, and consult with their team.

The benefits of a virtual provider solution  

Virtual behavioral health solutions help patients get seen more quickly, reduce expenses, and help promote quality care for patients who might otherwise be left waiting for treatment or end up back in the emergency department.

When determining who to partner with for a virtual behavioral health solution, it’s important to consider what other supports come along with the addition of a provider.

At Iris Telehealth, we pride ourselves on the support we provide to our partners to make sure they’re matched with a provider who has the right skillset and knowledge to treat the level of acuity they see within their inpatient units. We also provide clinical alignment executives who support and serve as a primary point of contact for our partners.

Laura Taylor, Program Director of Psychiatry at Carilion Clinic, Iris Telehealth Partner

Working with well-informed individuals who know exactly what to do, have had that experience, and can offer solutions while listening to needs. That’s what I’ve enjoyed so much about my relationship with Shannon [Iris Telehealth CAE].

These pillars of support also extend to help with licensing and credentialing as well as quality management services to ensure our providers are helping organizations meet their key behavioral health goals.

Treating behavioral health patients in the inpatient unit is no easy task, but we do our best to support each organization so they can experience the benefits of a virtual behavioral health solution.

How virtual behavioral health enables continuity of care

When a patient can’t get the care they need, when they need it, they may end up leaving the health system and going somewhere else for care. This potential for leakage is costly and creates a poor experience for patients.

When a health system has a behavioral health specialist readily available, the patient’s chance of being seen quickly increases. They receive proper evaluation and lessen their risk of their symptoms becoming exacerbated.

Additionally, in-person care may not meet demand in the same way a virtual solution can. There are several barriers an in-person provider may encounter versus someone working virtually. For example, while weather or traffic could keep a provider from making it into the unit, a virtual provider has consistent flexibility that supports a consistent schedule.

Laura Taylor, Program Director of Psychiatry at Carilion Clinic, Iris Telehealth Partner

To have an established Iris Telehealth provider was incredibly important because it created reliability on the unit. We knew exactly what we were working with when we had the physician. She was very reliable, and it created continuity of care.

Patients may need to be seen again and having a provider they know, trust, and can count on, can make all the difference in their care. Helping provide care to patients that’s high-quality and specialized can help them experience better outcomes and build trust with your organization.

How to get started with Scheduled Services

At Iris, we’re proud of the level of care we provide to patients. That’s why we have a 97% average patient satisfaction rate and a 92% partner retention rate. Additionally, our commitment to quality has helped us gain Joint Commission accreditation. We’ve treated 2.3M+ patients and counting and we’re eager to see how we can help those in your community get the behavioral health care they need and deserve.

If you’d like to learn more about how Scheduled Services can be integrated into your health system, don’t hesitate to reach out today. Contact us here for more information.

We want to hear from you. Seriously.

Whether you are a health organization looking to expand your telepsychiatry services or a prospective clinician who wants to join the team, we’d love to talk!