Telepsychiatry Companies

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Telepsychiatry is a great way to improve access to care for your patients, but how do you know if it would be a good fit for your health system? Before you make a decision, there are several components you should consider, like what care models would be most beneficial for your organization, how to ensure the right provider fit, and what to look for in a behavioral health partner.

If you’re looking to integrate a virtual behavioral health solution into your organization, keep reading to learn what you need to know to make an informed decision.

Key considerations for your telepsychiatry program

While jump-starting a telepsychiatry program might seem intimidating, it’s easier than you might think. Often, an organization’s hesitation comes from not knowing how telepsychiatry will fit into their current systems or workflows. However, this virtual solution has three components that can help deepen understanding.

Virtual care mirrors on-site care: Fortunately, a good virtual care solution reflects on-site patient care in nearly every way — regardless of setting.

Integration is vital: The proper workflows paired with consistent, simple technology can help virtual providers integrate seamlessly into your organization’s care team and systems. At Iris Telehealth, our providers use the same EMR as the on-site staff. This approach reduces disruption in communication between the care team and improves continuity of care for the patient. It also allows the Iris provider to establish and cultivate strong relationships with staff and patients.

Simple and effective technology: Before launching your telepsychiatry program, it’s essential to test out your IT solutions, train staff, and perform dry-runs. Connectivity issues, poor network speeds, and complicated software and hardware often cause disruptions that affect the patient’s experience. That’s where the right partner comes in. For example, at Iris, we help ensure everything is set-up and ready-to-go before appointments begin. The ultimate goal is for the technology to fade into the background during the appointment.

Next, we’ll take a look at the different behavioral health care models that can be delivered via telehealth.

Virtual care services for health systems and hospitals

There are several behavioral health services that can be delivered via telehealth. Here are a few that we make available at Iris Telehealth:

Bridge Care Services: Bridge Care Services provides a clinician-guided, evidence-based navigation assessment that directs patients to the most appropriate next level of care, delivers effective short-term behavioral health care, and facilitates a closed-loop handoff to the optimal longitudinal provider to address the gaps in care across the continuum.

On-Demand Services: On-Demand Services delivers 24/7 behavioral health care to increase throughput in your ED, reduce unnecessary admissions, and limit the revisit rate of behavioral health patients. These services provide access to a multi-disciplinary provider pod that will assess your behavioral health patients and consult with your on-site ED care team to get those patients dispositioned as quickly as possible.

Scheduled Services: This solution delivers access to consistent, high-quality providers dedicated to your health system (including individual hospitals and outpatient clinics) on a consistent schedule each week – ensuring a predictable coverage model for organizations. Investing in Scheduled Services means you have a dedicated provider who integrates with your team and allows your on-site providers to focus on what they do best and work at the top of their licenses.

If you’d like to learn more about these services, download our whitepaper exclusively for hospitals and health systems.

The patient’s perspective on virtual behavioral health care

Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, and virtual care has become the norm. Studies show that 59% of people would use telehealth for mental healthcare, and by 2029 behavioral health visits are expected to increase by 50%.

Most people are comfortable video chatting to keep in touch with friends and family members. Telemedicine isn’t different from these virtual interactions many of us have daily. But, a successful telehealth interaction involves a provider who excels at connecting with people over the video, a unique skill that not everyone has.

It can also be beneficial to ask your patients what they want directly and use this information to make a decision. Ultimately, the benefits for patients are significant. Telepsychiatry allows patients to get timely, high-quality psychiatric care facilitated by providers who are experts in assessing patient needs. Psychiatric care in a virtual environment helps patients get treated as quickly as possible as opposed to waiting for long hours in a busy waiting room.

How to find the right provider

It’s important to note that not every excellent doctor is a fantastic telehealth provider. In fact, it takes a unique and robust skillset to make a superb telepsychiatry provider. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right provider fit.

First, telepsychiatrists should be flexible. If something changes in their day to day, they should be comfortable going with the flow. Next, personability is essential for fostering patient comfort and connecting in a virtual environment. Given the nature of remote work, it’s also vital that they’re good communicators. Most importantly, they need to fit into your culture and have a shared belief in your values and mission.

Second, finding the right provider match can be challenging. That’s why it’s essential to work with a partner who can connect you with the right match. At Iris, we have a rigorous vetting process that ensures all our behavioral health providers are top quality and have a track record of providing exceptional care. We call this process, The Iris Match, and it’s our promise to you that we will ensure your Iris provider will meet your organization’s needs, culture, and values.

To learn more about this approach, download our guide, “How to Find the Best Telemental Health Provider for Your Organization.”

The key to identifying the right behavioral health partner

So, what does the right behavioral health partner look like? There are four key components you should check off your list before making a decision to partner with a virtual behavioral health solution.

  1. Do they facilitate provider matching solutions? At Iris, we draw from a large pool of highly vetted clinicians to help ensure organizations are connected to the provider type they need – whether that’s an MD, PMHNP, LCSW, or LPC.
  2. Are they Joint Commission accredited? Since 2019, Iris Telehealth has been certified for the Joint Commission for behavioral health. This accreditation speaks to our commitment to quality care.
  3. Do they offer quality support beyond connecting you to providers? For example, licensing and credentialing, day-to-day support, and help executing behavioral health strategies.
  4. Are they medical group led? We were founded by a child psychiatrist and have an expert group of medical leadership that offers guidance and recommendations to ensure your organization uses your telehealth solution to your best advantage.

If you can check all these off your list, there’s a good chance you’ve found a strategic behavioral health partner who can help you secure long-term success for your organization and patients.

Is telepsychiatry right for you?

Telepsychiatry can work in almost any setting and can be a great solution to improving patient care all while creating more efficient systems for your organization. At Iris Telehealth we make implementing a telepsychiatry solution a seamless process for health systems. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Finding behavioral health providers can be challenging for hospitals and health systems across the country. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47% of people live in a mental health provider shortage area. Alongside this shortage of mental health providers, health systems are facing an ever-increasing demand for care, making finding a sustainable, scalable solution for behavioral health services paramount.

In a webinar hosted by Beckers Hospital Review, healthcare leaders from Allina Health and Geisinger came together to discuss their approach to scaling behavioral health across the care continuum and how they’re leveraging partnerships with organizations like ours to meet the demand for care and support their patient populations.

How Geisinger is leveraging behavioral health partnerships to meet patient needs

Dawn Zieger, Vice President of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry at Geisinger, spoke to the organization’s experience with a rise in outpatient demand, noting they receive 180 referrals daily. Zieger says they would need to hire one psychiatrist every other day to keep up with demand. Fortunately, leveraging behavioral health partners who can support health systems via telehealth can help keep up with growing demand and scale behavioral health services across the care continuum.

Here are a few ways behavioral health partnerships can support care delivery:

  • Specialist care: To help keep up with the surge of outpatient access, organizations like Geisinger have leveraged telehealth services to help supplement their on-site providers and make behavioral health care available locally. For example, for health systems with a high volume of young patients, connecting with a pediatric psychiatrist can be a game-changer for the whole organization.
  • Group therapy: Scaling patient care by using group therapy can be another great strategy to reach more patients and get them the care they need faster. At Geisinger, 70% of their referrals are for depression, anxiety, or stress. By leveraging group therapy, Geisinger can reach more people where they are and help make the most of provider time.
  • Patient management: At Geisinger, Zeiger says they’re making a paradigm shift towards a population management approach to care. For example, organizations are better positioned to close care gaps and improve patient outcomes by monitoring patients showing early signs of behavioral health conditions and providing proactive outreach.

Sharing her thoughts on telehealth’s role at Geisinger, Zeiger said, “Virtual care has really helped democratize care in our community and helped us to serve in a way we never could.”

How Allina Health is optimizing outpatient care in the ED

Helping ensure psychiatry is readily available in the ED is crucial to helping increase throughput and improving patient outcomes.

To learn more about increasing throughput in the ED, download our whitepaper.

Joe Clubb, Vice President of Operations at Allina Health, highlighted Allina’s approach to building out their outpatient services in a robust way that will allow them to close out 2023 with 15% growth and help them ensure alternatives are available to inpatient admissions.

Clubb shared that leveraging virtual care to support those efforts has served their patients well – with Allina’s patient attendance rates going up by 10% and patient satisfaction increasing by 5% after virtual care implementation. He says, “For Allina, virtual care is here to stay.”

By having behavioral health providers readily available, patients can get the care they need. While the mental health provider shortage continues to grow, leveraging virtual clinicians can significantly impact operations.

Clubb says, “Because of the rapid growth, we can’t hire our way out of the shortage. We continue to do a great job with recruitment but rely heavily on our Iris partnership to staff that growth in our partial treatment programs.”

Leveraging behavioral health providers for integrated care

Having a care team available to patients and providers can help prevent behavioral health conditions from escalating and give on-site teams a specialist to lean on for complex cases.

For example, Geisinger integrated a provider team comprising psychiatrists, PMHNPs, and LCSWs to ensure each patient got the right level of care, by the right provider, in a timely manner.

To learn how Geisinger dramatically reduced their referral queue, read the case study here.

At Allina, they’re addressing the needs of individuals through an integrated primary care model. Currently, they have a team of 25 psychiatrists and 80 psychologists. They’re also introducing a new role called a mental health consultant, a clinical social worker embedded in primary care.

Clubb says by using this model they can address needs inclusive of social determinants of health and complex psychiatric needs.

By learning how to integrate mental health into primary care, organizations are more fully equipped to address a broad spectrum of behavioral health needs.

Get started with Iris Telehealth

At Iris, we’re grateful for the partnership of Geisinger and Allina Health and couldn’t be more thrilled to help them scale their behavioral health programs. If you’d like to hear more of their insights into their behavioral health, you can watch the webinar here.

Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about integrating quality behavioral health programs into your hospital or health system, contact us today to get started!

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Achieving value-based care for your health system can lead to higher-quality patient care, increase provider satisfaction, and facilitate economic benefits for all.

But how can your health system achieve these benefits? Navigate through the table of contents below to learn how to advance your journey toward value-based care in a scalable and financially sustainable way.

Table of contents
Value based care for health systems
Filling gaps in care across the behavioral health continuum
Benefits of value-based behavioral health care
Get started on your journey towards value-based care mental health services

Value based care for health systems

According to an article by The Commonwealth Fund, value-based care has many benefits, including holding providers accountable for improving patient outcomes and giving them more flexibility to provide the right care at the right time. As it stands, the current fee-for-service model pays providers based on the number of services they facilitate rather than the quality of care they provide.

While many hospitals and health systems aim to provide value-based care for their community, it’s not always possible given the large spectrum of patients that come through their doors. For example, due to their large (and increasing) patient volumes, many hospitals have to default to a model where they have to triage patients who need immediate help in the ED, those who come in through referrals, then those who need proactive outreach. This approach causes delayed care and no follow-up, creating a barrier to providing the care that patients need and deserve.

The challenge many health systems face regarding behavioral health care is that there’s not enough access to be proactive and help the patients who need care. And unfortunately, due to growing referral queues, follow-up challenges, and inefficient workflows, helping patients receive this level of care isn’t always an option. Before an organization can be proactive and lean into a value-based care model, they must help patients with effective care that helps facilitate better patient outcomes and fill gaps in ambulatory and post-acute behavioral health care.

So, how can hospitals and health systems jumpstart their journey towards providing value-based care? That’s where leveraging care models that are evidence-based and built for scalability and financial sustainability come into play. Care models like Bridge Care Services delivered via telehealth can help ensure patients in need receive timely access to quality care.

Filling gaps in care across the behavioral health continuum

Every hospital faces a hierarchy of needs regarding patient care, and helping those with the highest acuity is top priority. Fortunately, Bridge Care Services can help ensure patients get the care they need so they don’t have to return to the hospital for additional care or escalate to the emergency department unnecessarily. The model was also built for scalability and financial sustainability to ensure it can help serve large populations effectively.

Bridge Care Services works by providing a clinician-guided, evidence-based navigation assessment that directs patients to the most appropriate next level of care, delivers effective short-term behavioral health care, and facilitates a closed-loop handoff that returns them their primary care provider, psychiatrist, or specialist for long-term care.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the components of what makes a bridge care program successful:

  • Dedicated care teams: Care teams are comprised of MDs, PMHNPs, and LCSWs who collaborate to provide the best care possible for patients.
  • Navigation assessments: Navigation assessments help patients get to the right level of care by looking at their needs through focused, biopsychosocial, and evidence-based questions.
  • Quality behavioral healthcare: An evidence-based short-term care model allows health systems to scale care in a financially sustainable way and get patients transferred back to primary care in an appropriate manner.
  • Closed loop handoff: Returning patients back to their PCP or specialist is an essential part of the bridge care process that helps ensure patients don’t fall through any future behavioral health gaps.

Benefits of value-based behavioral health care

Once an organization achieves value-based behavioral health care for their population, they reap many benefits, some of which, according to The Commonwealth Fund include reduction in cost care and improvement of quality of care. The Commonwealth Fund also highlights how value-based care can transform collaboration and allow providers to spend more time facilitating care related to counseling or screening for social needs.

Additionally, according to a behavioral health analysis by Evernorth Health Services, treating behavioral health conditions in outpatient care is directly tied with a reduction in medical and pharmacy costs. In their analysis, they highlight savings up to $2,565 per person over the 15 months following a diagnosis and up to $3,321 per person over the 27 months following a diagnosis.

Here are a few other key benefits that value-based behavioral health care can provide:

  • Healthier and more satisfied patient population
  • More fulfilled providers facilitating quality care
  • Lower total cost of care that helps you meet financial objectives
  • Better care so patients don’t escalate

At Iris Telehealth, our partners have successfully leveraged Bridge Care Services and helped move their organization closer to a value-based care model. For example, at Geisinger Health, we’ve helped them procure the following results with Bridge Care Services:

  • 83% reduction in referral backlog (18,000 – 3,000) within 6 months
  • 40 % of their psychiatry referrals were diverted to a lower, more cost-effective level of care
  • 38% improvement in their patient’s depression symptoms over eight weeks of care

To read the full story, check out our case study outlining how they leveraged our Bridge Care Services program.

Get started on your journey towards value-based care mental health services

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your hospital or health system address patient needs in your community, contact us today!

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Ensuring patients with a mental health diagnosis get the best short-term care possible after their hospital visit is essential. In fact, clinical best practices and various guidelines recommend that 100% of patients leaving the ED with a behavioral health diagnosis should receive follow-up within the first seven days. However, that process is done less than half the time nationally.

For health systems, solutions like Bridge Care Services can help deliver the quality, short-term care needed to support effective patient outcomes and experiences. But, how does bridge care work, and how does it help ensure patients get the care they need in a way that’s financially and organizationally sustainable for health systems? Keep reading to learn more.

Want to jump ahead? Feel free to navigate this piece using the table of contents below:

The challenges hospitals face with short-term behavioral health care
Why patients benefit from short-term care after discharge
The power of high-quality care and support after discharge
Short-term behavioral health care in action
Where Iris Telehealth fits in

The challenges hospitals face with short-term behavioral health care

When it comes to meeting the needs of patients with behavioral health diagnoses, hospitals, and health systems face challenges related to behavioral health staffing and the ability to provide timely, efficient care. While many patients need care, there aren’t enough providers to facilitate treatment. Currently, hospitals face staffing challenges for case managers, licensed clinal social workers (LCSWs), psychologists, and psychiatrists.

Additionally, pulling together a safe discharge plan can be exceptionally challenging for case management teams, especially if the patient isn’t plugged into an outpatient team. If patients can’t access effective follow-up care after discharge, hospitals may experience an increased risk of readmission, and patients may be more at risk of worsening symptoms. For example, if patients aren’t set up with a provider who can help with medication or therapy (or both) upon discharge, they may risk relapse of unsafe behaviors and medication non-compliance.

Despite these challenges, setting up a solution like Bridge Care Services, for short-term care can help promote positive patient outcomes. This solution fills short-term gaps in ambulatory and post-acute behavioral health care by accelerating access to specialists, achieving measurement-based outcomes, and optimizing reimbursement for a financially sustainable behavioral health program.

Why patients benefit from short-term care after discharge

Patients who enter the post-acute referral queue need care that’s more efficient than what’s offered in traditional outpatient care. These patients are at particularly high risk when they move from intensive acute care to wait for their next outpatient appointment. Ideally, these patients should be seen quickly upon discharge. However, due to a lack of resources and extensive waitlists, they may end up waiting for long periods to see an outpatient provider or may need to return to their primary care provider for a follow-up appointment.

When these patients leave the hospital system, they’re often starting medications or getting medications adjusted. These patients need close follow-ups with labs to ensure they’re tolerating their medicines at the right dose.

Additionally, there are a lot of stressors that come with being discharged. For instance, the hospital creates a very structured environment for the patient where they receive three warm meals daily, have housing, and have supportive people surrounding them. However, when discharged, they may be sent back to the environment that initially triggered them, or did not optimize structure and support needed for on-going recovery and healing.

Treatment isn’t complete once a patient is discharged. While their symptoms may have improved with their current treatment plan, they must be continually assessed, monitored, and potentially adjusted at a lower level of care. All of these considerations make short-term care essential.

The power of high-quality care and support after discharge

A dedicated bridge care program solves access at scale. When a hospital or health system has an extensive referral queue, this solution helps patients get care in a timely manner. Bridge Care Services bridges the gap with short-term care and helps ensure patients can be safely managed by their primary care provider or can safely land with a long-term behavioral health provider.

Here are a few keys to success that Bridge Care Services offers:

  • Financially sustainable programming: Hospitals and health systems can have a financially sustainable program by leveraging a billable navigation assessment and driving top-of-license care.
  • Top-of-license work: At Iris Telehealth, we’ve seen health systems leverage psychiatrists for visits that could be handled in a lower level of care. In some cases, primary care providers refer patients to psychiatrists who could be seen by a therapist or a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). As a part of the navigation assessment within bridge care, this solution helps ensure everyone is working top of license.
  • Improved clinical care and outcomes: By providing quality, timely care to patients, bridge care improves patient symptoms, reduces hospitalization and escalation of care, and ensures patients are getting better sooner and don’t drive escalations into high acuity levels.
  • Turnaround time for follow-up visits: Bridge care helps ensure visits happen quickly and make it a quality measure. When assessing, the rule of thumb is to see a patient within seven days of discharge.
  • Pool of resources: This solution helps the inpatient team know they have a pool of resources for the patient when they’re trying to arrange follow-up appointments. If there’s a gap, these resources ensure the patient has a safe landing out of the hospital/outpatient setting.
  • Warm hand-off for patient care: Effective communication during the hand-off is crucial for success. At Iris, we use the same electronic health record (EHR) as the healthcare organization, and can help ensure the assessment and notes are documented for the primary care physician and therapist.. The hand-off ensures seamless communication and updates the next provider on the treatment plan, including medication adjustments and patient progress.

Short-term behavioral health care in action

Effective short-term care requires dedicated providers who can deliver appropriate care to patients for approximately 90 days following the initial assessment. For patients who require medication management, effective short term bridge care can include three total visits – one 60-minute initial consultation and two 30-minute follow ups. For those requiring therapy services, many patients require six sessions over the 90 days.

By working with a telehealth solution that is technology-neutral and can integrate into an organization’s patient outreach process, healthcare organizations can seamlessly ensure patients receive the short term care they need to address their mental health conditions and develop treatment plans as needed.

Here’s what people are saying about utilizing Bridge Care Services at their organization:

“One of the biggest advantages was gaining access to a national pipeline. It can be tough to recruit in a rural market, and now we can get talented providers in the door much quicker than before. As a result, we got 20 or so highly talented, very bright and motivated providers on our team in a matter of months.”

Benjamin C. Gonzales, operations manager II, virtual care, at Geisinger Health

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

Bridge Care Services helps ensure patients can manage their symptoms and reach an improved state where they can live a happier, more balanced life. If you’d like to learn how you can best support the patients seeking mental health care in your hospital or health system, contact us today!

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Meeting behavioral health patients with timely support, appropriate care, and proper follow-up is essential to their care journeys. Unfortunately, finding the right care isn’t always easy. Between provider shortages, increased demand for mental health treatment, and social determinants of health, patients may spend a lot of time waiting for care without ever receiving the support they need.

Thankfully, Bridge Care Services can help. Keep reading to learn more about how bridge care can help connect patients with the right provider in a timely manner, so their care can be as effective as possible.

Table of contents
Bridge care 101
How Bridge Care Services works
The benefits of Bridge Care Services
Where Iris Telehealth fits in

Bridge care 101

A dedicated bridge care program can help support health systems via a virtual bridge clinic that deploys a measurement-based model to fill short-term gaps in behavioral health care across the continuum. It can also help patients with a behavioral health referral get timely, high-quality care and appropriate treatment and follow-up.

Keys to success:

  1. Augmenting behavioral health access: Any system struggling with its referral volumes needs a mechanism to augment its clinical bandwidth to reduce its backlog – whether that means optimizing existing resources or leveraging a third-party partner like Iris Telehealth.
  2. Financial sustainability: Health systems have to maintain financial viability for any program to stand the test of time. A bridge care program should be designed accordingly and optimized for reimbursement.
  3. Care navigation: Clinical recommendations that direct the patient to the right type of care, from the right type of provider.

Additionally, by leveraging telehealth for a bridge care program, organizations are better positioned to help their entire population, including those who live in hard-to-reach areas or those who might be dealing with transportation barriers.

How Bridge Care Services works

There are four components that make up Bridge Care Services and help more people get the care they need.

Here’s how those components work to support health systems:

  • Care pods: A care pod is a team-based approach to care that enables collaboration between social workers, therapists, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, and
    psychiatrists to ensure they can work together towards the best possible care for their patients. This teamwork allows the clinicians to share their expertise when needed and work together when managing a patient’s behavioral health care.
  • Navigation assessments: A navigation assessment walks a patient through their journey to ensure they get where they need to go. This process looks at the patient’s needs through focused, biopsychosocial, and evidence-based questions. Based on the assessment, the patient is quickly triaged to the appropriate level of care.
  • Short-term care: Effective short term care requires dedicated providers who can deliver appropriate care to patients for approximately 90 days following the initial assessment. By working with a telehealth solution that is technology-neutral and can integrate into an organization’s patient outreach process, healthcare organizations can seamlessly ensure patients receive the short term behavioral health care they need.
  • Closed loop hand-off: Effective bridge care ensures the facilitation of a seamless patient handoff from short-term care back to their PCP or community behavioral health provider for appropriate ongoing treatment. This facilitation helps set up both the patient and the health system for appropriate long-term success and helps prevent patients from falling through future behavioral health gaps.

For a more in-depth look at how Bridge Care Services works, download our whitepaper.

The benefits of Bridge Care Services

With the immense need for care, health systems are overwhelmed. Thankfully, Bridge Care Services can help organizations with the influx they’re experiencing, provide additional support, and continue providing the highest quality of care they’re accustomed to delivering to their patients.

When implemented properly in a health system, Bridge Care Services can help:

  • Support organizational quality measures
  • Increase patient satisfaction
  • Decrease provider burnout
  • Retain patients within the health system
  • Keep patients in the referral queue out of the ED
  • Support attainment of HEDIS measures
  • Reduce 30-day readmission rates
  • Promote referring provider satisfaction

Bridge Care Services helps provide a transformative process for health systems, their teams, and the patients they serve.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris Telehealth, we believe patients deserve access to high-quality behavioral health care. That’s why we walk with them throughout their care journeys to help ensure they get the most effective care possible. If you’d like to learn more about our Bridge Care Services program, contact us today or download our whitepaper.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Is your emergency department (ED) becoming the go-to for behavioral health patients because your psychiatry unit is under too much pressure?

If so, you’re not alone.

The United States is experiencing a shortage of psychiatrists and mental health providers — and it’s not expected to get better. Community and inpatient resources for mental health care are dwindling. With fewer providers, appointments, and specialized psychiatric facilities available, more and more behavioral health patients are coming to the ED as a last resort.

This mental health crisis can have big implications for your health system, including:

  • Increased length of stay
  • Higher admission and transfer rates
  • Long wait times
  • Poor patient satisfaction

In this post, we’ll share how you can improve patient satisfaction by implementing an emergency department (ED) telehealth program, increase access to care, and integrate solutions like telepsychiatry across departments. We’ll also discuss three things you can consider when implementing telepsychiatry for your health systems or hospitals.

ED telehealth services improve patient satisfaction and access

ED telehealth services like telepsychiatry allow hospitals to give patients faster access to high-quality psychiatric care through a virtual visit. This level of access means behavioral health patients don’t have to wait for hours to receive treatment from their ED physician. In addition, they can bypass an in-person consultation from a psychiatric provider, which can mean a shorter length of stay in the ED.

One study even found that a virtual visit conducted in the ED lasted 30-45 minutes — in stark contrast to traditional in-person ED visits, which can take 2 to 2.5 hours.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have increasingly welcomed telemedicine into their healthcare journey as they seek more convenience and partnership with their healthcare providers. A study published in 2021 found that around 82% of respondents considered a virtual visit as good as an in-person visit by a clinician.

That means ED telehealth providers can offer a more comfortable, high-quality, and efficient ED experience for patients experiencing critical mental health conditions.

Telehealth services increase hospital discharge and follow-up rates

Studies have found that EDs that don’t use ED telehealth services like telepsychiatry are three times more likely to have used observation services to reduce ED crowding. However, these observation services often result in high admission and transfer rates.

Observation services can also prove costly because they often require an investment in additional staffing. To make matters worse, many hospitals and health systems struggle to meet Medicare’s requirement to follow up with behavioral health patients within seven days of discharge.

The current approach to behavioral health management is not sustainable given an evolving healthcare landscape that’s more focused on value than on the number of services provided.

ED telehealth services improve patient outcomes and reduce use of limited resources

For example, Iris Telehealth provides hospitals and health systems with highly qualified psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who can support your ED by:

  • Assessing whether the hospital can discharge a patient instead of admitting or transferring them.
  • Starting treatment during a visit so the patient doesn’t have to wait for an in-person psychiatric consultation or follow-up visit.
  • Providing follow-ups for patients discharged from the hospital, thus ensuring continuity of care and Medicare compliance.

With a telepsychiatry vendor supporting your ED care team, patients are more likely to receive specialized, appropriate, and efficient care. This optimized care frees up more ED and inpatient beds for patients with medical or surgical issues. As a result, hospitals and health systems save more on costs due to reduced boarding times as well as lower admission and transfer rates.

While telepsychiatry can positively impact behavioral health patients in the ED, hospitals and health systems can also leverage the service in other patient care areas.

The future of telehealth in the ED

As patient needs grow more complex, we’re discovering opportunities for services like telepsychiatry in other departments besides the ED.

Aside from incorporating virtual care services into their inpatient psychiatric wards, health systems can expand telepsychiatry in palliative and hospice care. In these departments, patients and caregivers may need substantial behavioral health support to manage anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

At the end of the day, targeted, comprehensive care will be crucial to boosting patient outcomes and hospital revenue.

Incorporating telepsychiatry into your hospital or health system

If you’re interested in implementing a telepsychiatry program to support behavioral health patients, know that the most crucial step is choosing a telepsychiatry vendor you trust.
Here are three major factors you should consider:

    1. Technology: As with all changes to hospital culture, hospital staff may seem reluctant to accept a new telepsychiatry platform. For this reason, many of our partners have seen value in the fact that we are technology-neutral. Our providers can work with your electronic health record or telehealth platform, so your staff doesn’t have to worry about learning how to use a brand new platform.
    2. Regulatory Standards: The telehealth boom has triggered regulatory changes that carry various implications on billing, risk management, and consenting practices, to name a few. It’s important to partner with a vendor who is knowledgeable about these changes to help ensure compliance and maximize reimbursement from payers.
    3. Goal Commitment: Whether your goals are decreasing ED wait times, increasing patient satisfaction, or spending less money on observation services, you need a consistent partner you can trust to achieve them.

If you partner with Iris Telehealth, you’ll receive access to a dedicated telepsychiatry care team that’s committed to your hospital or health system’s vision for behavioral health services.

We’ll help you develop realistic goals along with an action plan to implement your telepsychiatry program properly. You can also count on us to effectively and quickly remedy challenges that may arise during implementation (e.g., staff acceptance, technical issues).

Building a successful telepsychiatry program can seem overwhelming. But we’re here to make the process more manageable and less stressful. Contact us — we’ll provide the information your hospital or health system needs to reshape the future of behavioral health care.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

The demand for telehealth continues to grow, and if you’re an organization utilizing a virtual behavioral health solution like telepsychiatry, you understand the value of this platform first-hand. By the numbers, 96% of behavioral health providers think telehealth has proven its worth as a therapeutic tool during the pandemic, and 59% of patients say they would use telehealth for mental healthcare.

It’s clear patients and providers alike are reaping the benefits of telehealth for mental health. However, it can be difficult to determine when you should expand your telepsychiatry program.

In our experience at Iris Telehealth, we’ve seen more than 90% of our partnerships grow within the first year. But, how do you know if expansion is the right choice for your organization? Keep reading to learn the 10 signs it’s time to expand your telepsychiatry program.

1. You have an extensive waiting list for behavioral health patients

Telepsychiatry helps organizations improve patient wait times. However, if your practice continues to grow, or you’re a new CCBHC working to meet an influx of patient needs, you may experience waitlists as you did before investing in telepsychiatry. Our partners have found that the simplest solution in this situation is to continue expanding their already-existing telepsychiatry department rather than hiring an on-site psychiatrist, which could take ample time to find the right match.

At Iris, we help organizations through this process, using an approach we call “The Iris Match.” The Iris Match is our promise to our partners that we will ensure their provider will meet their organization’s needs, culture, and values. By the end of our match process, our partner organizations have a provider who will not only fill their care gaps, but who their care team and patients love.

2. Your existing psychiatrists are overwhelmed by their patient load

Part of the reason you may have started a telepsychiatry program was to lighten the workload for your on-site providers, but due to high demand, you may need more help. This growing pain might mean it’s time to increase the hours of operation for your telepsychiatry program so your on-site staff can function without feeling overwhelmed. Many partners have found that telepsychiatry works as an excellent supplementary staffing model when used correctly.

3. Your care team and patients are responding well to telepsychiatry, and outcomes are improving

If your organization was hesitant about telepsychiatry at first – you’re not alone. Upfront, we often hear organizations say they’re concerned their patients won’t like the platform. However, after working with Iris, this concern is quickly eliminated. Technology is now a significant part of our daily lives, and patients are typically comfortable using telehealth for mental health care.

Additionally, telepsychiatry providers integrate well into organizations and create valuable relationships with the on-site teams and patients. Due to this extra help and seamless integration, the desire for virtual visits and care typically increases. If this experience resonates with your organization, growing your telepsychiatry program can help lead to happier patients and better outcomes.

4. You need a specialized provider

If you started your telepsychiatry program with a more general provider to help cover basic patient needs, you may soon realize you need specialty care as well. Whether that’s finding a Spanish-speaking provider, a child psychiatrist, or even a geriatric psychiatrist – telepsychiatry has you covered. Thankfully, this platform has an expansive reach and can connect organizations with providers from all over the country.

Additionally, at Iris, our rigorous vetting process ensures that all our behavioral health providers are top quality and have a track record of providing exceptional care. We also have several provider types to help meet an organization’s needs. Whether you’re looking to work with a psychiatrist, PMHNP, or an LCSW, we can help recommend and match you with the right provider for your needs.

5. Your number of referrals for new patients is increasing

When an organization implements a telepsychiatry program, they’re able to meet the mental health needs of more patients. While this success is positive, it can increase referrals and make it difficult to meet demand. If you’re familiar with this challenge, it might be an excellent time to consider expanding your telepsychiatry department.

6. You are acquiring more patient rooms or space in your building

Are you adding to your current facility or gaining access to more space to help with your growing patient population? If this is the case, you are in a great position to plan and begin expanding your telepsychiatry department. That way, once you gain access to your new space, you are ready to fill it.

7. Your no-show rate is decreasing

Telepsychiatry increases patient access to high-quality care. Because of this increased access and convenience, you may see no-show rates decrease. With lower no-show rates, your providers may find themselves with increasingly full schedules. To meet demand and help your providers continue providing excellent care, you might consider increasing your telepsychiatry program’s hours.

8. You realize your telepsychiatry provider is essential to your team

At Iris, we only extend a formal offer to 6% of clinical candidates who apply to work with us. That means we know we’re getting the best of the best. One of the reasons our partnerships have such longevity is the quality of care our providers facilitate. While organizations may have some initial concerns about provider integration, they are pleasantly surprised to find that their telepsychiatry provider quickly becomes an essential part of the team.

If this is the case for you, maybe it’s time to consider other telemental health best practices, like expanding your provider’s hours from 16 to 30 or even exploring bringing on another telepsychiatry provider.

9. You still can’t find the right on-site psychiatrist

If you’re struggling to find an on-site provider for your organization, you’re not alone. Due to the provider shortage, finding help is a typical challenge. This inability to find providers is one of the primary reasons telepsychiatry has grown in popularity. If you’ve experienced great success with your telepsychiatry provider, it could be a good time to invest in bringing another psychiatrist, LCSW or PMHNP onto the team.

10. You realize that telepsychiatry is a sustainable, long-term solution

Telepsychiatry is the future of mental healthcare and serves as a sustainable, long-term solution for your organization. If you’re ready to make telepsychiatry your one-stop shop for all things mental healthcare, consider expanding your program.

What does it look like to expand your telepsychiatry program?

Growing your telepsychiatry solution doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, most organizations have taken care of the hard part by making the initial investment, figuring out technology, creating workflows, and training providers. That said, growing your telepsychiatry program can be as simple as adding a couple days of coverage to your program or reaching out to your telepsychiatry organization to see if they can help you find another provider and implement telepsychiatry best practices. Regardless of your needs, expanding a current telepsychiatry program can set you and your organization up for success.

About Iris Telehealth

At Iris, we work with you to create a long-term placement that facilitates continuity of care for your patients and care team. Our rigorous vetting process ensures that all our behavioral health providers are top quality and have a track record of providing exceptional care to communities like yours.

If you would like to talk more about how we can help your organization secure a long-term provider fit, contact us today.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

According to the CDC, approximately 146.5 million patients visit hospital emergency departments (EDs) in the United States each year. Among those seeking emergency care from EDs is a growing number of patients suffering from mental health crises. However, when it comes to addressing this high demand for psychiatric care, many health systems don’t know where to start. Fortunately, telepsychiatry can help.

The current state of telepsychiatry in the ED

So, why is it difficult to address mental health needs in the ED? The truth is, hospitals and health systems are overwhelmed, and addressing mental health needs in the emergency department can prove challenging for several reasons:

  • Increased need for specialty care: Hospitals have witnessed a 24% spike in mental health emergency department visits for kids aged 5 to 11 and a 31% increase for adolescents aged 12 to 17.
  • Lack of resources: When they don’t have adequate behavioral health support, some hospitals and health systems may work with locum tenens to help supplement gaps left by the ongoing provider shortage. However, locums often lack integration and don’t facilitate a long-term, team-based approach.
  • High costs: According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, mental and substance use disorder ED visits had service delivery costs of more than $5.6 billion, representing more than 7% of the $76.3 billion total in ED visit costs.
  • Patient return rate: In an analysis of ED visits for mental health and substance abuse, 14.2% of patients returned to the ED or hospital within 30 days.

If you’re seeing these problems day in and day out, you’re not alone.

Enter: Telepsychiatry services in the ED.

How can telepsychiatry help with ED throughput?

Telepsychiatry improves ED throughput to quickly provide patients with access to high-quality psychiatric care through a virtual visit. With telepsychiatry, patients no longer need to wait hours to receive treatment from an ED physician or an in-person consultation from a psychiatric provider, which drastically reduces their length of stay in the ED.

However, before officially launching your telepsychiatry program into your ED, make sure you’ve worked through any barriers or misconceptions around telepsychiatry within your organization.

Three common barriers to telepsychiatry in the ED

Telepsychiatry is growing in popularity. In fact, according to the APA, nearly nearly six in 10 would use telehealth services for mental healthcare.

However, despite the growing popularity, there is still hesitancy around implementing a virtual solution, whether its technology concerns, common misconceptions about telepsychiatry, or cultural considerations. Determining how to tackle these worries is essential to a successful implementation.

  1. Technology barriers
    The most common objection to implementing telepsychiatry into the ED is the fear of not knowing how to use the technology correctly, as well as a lack of fluency in technology. By partnering with a telepsychiatry vendor like Iris Telehealth, you’ll get a technology-neutral addition to your team that seamlessly integrates into your current systems and equipment you’re already using.
  2. Misconceptions about telepsychiatry
    A common misconception about telepsychiatry in the ED is that it isn’t as effective as in-person treatment. However, telepsychiatry can be just as effective as in-person treatment. When a patient is experiencing a mental health emergency, telepsychiatry can ensure they’re quickly assessed, diagnosed, and provided with a treatment plan.
  3. Changing ED culture
    Another tough objection is getting staff on board with telepsychiatry in the ED. Attending physicians and staff are used to providers being in close proximity to them. When EDs partner with Iris Telehealth, they’re organizations and providers are offered continual support and resources, no matter the time of day.

The biggest benefits for EDs working with a telepsychiatry vendor

When emergency departments partner with a telepsychiatry vendor like Iris Telehealth, they receive on-demand support and resources. Telepsych providers can assess a patient’s needs and manage their risk to ensure each patient receives proper treatment and is dispositioned quickly. Additionally, EDs can expect to see improved patient care.

Here are just a few benefits patients receive through telepsychiatry:

  • Improved access to specialty care that might not otherwise be available
  • Better outcomes due to integrated behavioral health and primary care
  • Reduction in delayed care
  • Reduction in transportation barriers, such as lack of transportation or the need for long drives
  • Increased feelings of safety, security, and privacy

Emergency departments that utilize telepsychiatry have access to psychiatrists around the clock. And when mental health patients have access to adequate psychiatric care, they leave healthier and happier.

How telepsychiatry transforms the ED

Telepsychiatry is making it possible for more people to get the care they need in a hospital setting without the long wait. As telehealth becomes the norm, organizations see the benefits by way of on-demand resources, cost savings, and additional expertise.

On-demand services: Telepsychiatry serves as a 24/7 resource for organizations and their patients. That means patients have access to high-quality providers who ensure they receive proper treatment.

Cost savings: This virtual solution helps hospitals meet their organizational and financial needs by helping them avoid unnecessary bed holds.

By implementing a telepsychiatry solution, your organization can help more people in the community, increase throughput in the ED, and release pressure on your providers and overall organization.

How Iris Telehealth can help

We ensure patients always receive the best care and treatment possible. When a patient comes through the emergency department seeking mental health services, it’s critical to make their experience as seamless as possible.

If you would like to learn more details about how our services can integrate into your ED, you can download our whitepaper today.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

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.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Many hospitals and health systems have never implemented a psychiatry or telepsychiatry program. Other hospitals have dabbled in telemedicine by providing telestroke or teleradiology services. Now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many health systems and community hospitals are turning to telepsychiatry to help meet the enormous behavioral health needs of their backed-up clinics and swamped Emergency Departments (EDs) caused by a shortage of mental health providers.

If you’re considering launching a formal telepsychiatry program at your hospital to help support mental health patients in your EDs and beyond, keep reading! This post will break down the benefits of a telepsychiatry program, tools for analyzing whether telepsychiatry is a good fit for your hospital, criteria for evaluating vendors, and helpful hospital implementation logistics.

How a telepsychiatry program can benefit your hospital or health system

Since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, hospitals have seen overdose and relapse rates of patients dealing with substance-abuse disorders increase by 30%. Patients are dealing with more stress and anxiety about the pandemic and the subsequent economic and health fallouts. At the same time, more and more mental health patients are turning to EDs for care — which they may not be able to provide with current staff.

Fortunately, changes in healthcare regulations are expanding hospitals’ abilities to offer telepsychiatry in new settings that will help improve timely access to high-quality behavioral healthcare. That means, when caring for patients, hospitals will have additional opportunities to provide telepsychiatry and meet patients’ behavioral health needs more quickly and seamlessly.

Telepsychiatry services can be beneficial for patients with comorbidities of psychiatric conditions coupled with existing medical challenges (this combination often contributes to more severe health risks, higher utilization of EDs, longer hospital stays, and higher cost per patient). In addition, telepsychiatry benefits populations living in rural areas as they can have the opportunity to access health resources and services.

All things considered, when implemented effectively, a telepsychiatry program can go a long way towards helping hospitals meet their quadruple-aim goals of better outcomes, higher patient satisfaction, reduced costs, and improving the clinician experience.

Setting yourself up for success with your hospital’s new telepsychiatry program

Once you’ve determined a telepsychiatry solution may be a good fit for your hospital or health system, you should first evaluate the goals for your program. Plan for a long-term relationship with whatever telepsychiatry solution you choose (whether it’s a vendor like Iris Telehealth or an individual, local provider).

Initial steps should include: Identifying gaps and pain points, auditing your EHR to understand how often you’re addressing psychiatric conditions, discussing staff feedback on current processes and needs, and working through your overall psychiatric needs (including potential hourly and budgetary needs to launch a successful program).

As with any implementation plan, it’s important to outline how you’ll measure success. You should determine which metrics you plan to track to ensure your telepsychiatry program works well for your organization and your patient populations.

Potential metrics might include:

  • ED boarding times
  • Resources spent on sitters for behavioral health patients
  • Med/Surge behavioral health patient volumes per shift or diagnosis type
  • Financial metrics
  • Patient satisfaction measurements

Later, you’ll look back at these goals and metrics to determine how successful your telepsychiatry program has been for the community and patients you serve.

Free Whitepaper: Building a Sustainable Telepsychiatry Program

Choosing the vendor or telepsychiatry partner who’s right for your hospital

Choosing a vendor can feel like an overwhelming process — because it’s often difficult to tell if someone will be a good fit for your organization.

But there are some key steps that can help you make your decision (and be confident it’s the right one):

  1. Create a checklist to understand your non-negotiable requirements for a telepsychiatry program to ensure potential vendors meet your needs.
  2. Request referrals from current or past clients from similarly-sized hospitals serving patient populations like yours.
  3. Research the leadership structure of potential vendors and the company’s ownership (companies run by physicians will likely have more experience providing quality care).
  4. Ask for quotes from potential telepsychiatry vendors.
  5. Analyze their bandwidth for technology support, support hours, and whether they’ll be ready by your program’s go-live date.

Keep in mind that vendors with Joint Commission accreditation are typically a step ahead of competitors. Joint Commission accreditation speaks to the quality of the vendor’s services and the vendor’s ability to enforce compliance and maintain effective processes.

Implementing a telepsychiatry program at your hospital

The implementation process for a telepsychiatry program can be time-consuming. Still, it’s worth doing it right so you’re setting your program up for success as soon as it officially goes live.

One of the biggest hurdles to launching a telepsychiatry program is the process of licensing and credentialing your telepsychiatry providers. This process involves confirming the clinician’s work history and education history while verifying references to provide an in-depth vetting of the clinicians. You’ll also contract and panel with health plans including Medicaid and Medicare as well as local, regional, and relevant private health plans.

If you choose to partner with Iris Telehealth, Iris can provide complete credentialing packets from our own Joint Commission accredited privileging process. Our TJC accreditation enables you to take advantage of credentialing by proxy and eliminates a large portion of your team’s workload while dramatically cutting down the time to go live with services dramatically.

Along with licensing and credentialing, we also recommend you assemble an on-side implementation team and a telepsychiatry care team to work with your telepsychiatry vendor as you prepare to launch.

You’ll also want to train your front desk and medical support staff on any necessary workflows around your telepsychiatry program.

Launching a telepsychiatry program can seem like a lot of work — but it’s worth it

Starting a new telepsychiatry program at a hospital or health system can seem like a daunting task. It involves understanding your patients’ needs, evaluating telepsychiatry companies, facing new logistical and workflow challenges, and leveraging technology effectively on both your and your patients’ end. But it can go a long way to alleviating pressure on your EDs, reducing unnecessary psychiatric bed holds, and decreasing your length of stay.

Plus, if you choose the right telepsychiatry vendor, they’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure your program is a success.

To learn more about how Iris Telehealth can help you build a successful telepsychiatry program at your hospital or health system, contact us, and we’ll get you the information you need.