Telepsychiatry Companies

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Ten years ago, helping healthcare organizations understand virtual workflows and virtual care pathways was much more complicated than it is today. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of virtual care across all medical specialties and primary care has been critical, especially in behavioral health.

Today, behavioral health usage rates remain high. At Iris Telehealth, it’s not unusual for our partners to use telehealth 50-75% of the time for behavioral health care services. Everyone is used to telehealth.

That means, rather than primarily focusing on connecting and seeing patients (the core of virtual care), we’re now able to focus on emerging workflows that enable analytics that track no-show rates, billing and coding patterns, and patient engagement.

One area where we’ve seen a high opportunity for workflow improvement and high impact on patient outcomes is leveraging virtual care in the inpatient psychiatric unit.

The reality of behavioral health care in the health system

Behavioral health patients seeking care for urgent issues and experiencing long wait times in the health system is nothing new. That’s because many hospitals don’t have access to behavioral health resources. When they don’t have this access, they leverage social workers for care coordination, therapy, and patient support.

If a patient comes in with cardiac or lung issues, you want them to meet with a provider with the appropriate skill set and knowledge to assess them based on their presentation. Many emergency departments have excellent providers who have been able to treat behavioral health patients, but nowadays the acuity is much higher.

Access to inpatient treatment for patients who might be manic, psychotic, or experiencing withdrawal can be challenging – and it may not always be easy and efficient to direct them to the appropriate hospital bed or step-down unit.

That’s where we’re finding that, for many health systems, the emergency department is becoming like an inpatient unit. For organizations that partner with a telehealth solution like ours, patients can be seen by a psychiatrist or a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) in less than an hour of when they present to the ED.

From there, we can work with the ED staff on starting or restarting necessary medications or guiding the course of treatment – which makes for a better patient experience and smoother workflows for the on-site care teams.

In-person care verses virtual in inpatient psychiatric units

Through our partnerships with major hospitals and health systems across the country, we have found that hospitals and inpatient psychiatric units that have adopted workflows enable virtual care work very well.

When working with an organization, we like to learn about their culture around telehealth. We learn about their history and how they’ve embraced telehealth in the past.

It’s important for organizations to consider that the quality of an in-person provider isn’t necessarily better than that of a virtual care provider. We can get high-quality providers who want to work from their homes and virtually go into the inpatient psychiatry unit and ED, allowing patients to experience the high-quality care and professionalism they need and deserve.

Also, hospitals can have long-term virtual care providers seeing patients on inpatient units and engaging in rounding, team meetings, consults, and admitting/discharging patients.

A virtual behavioral health provider can be just as accessible throughout the day as an in-person provider. While you can’t knock on their door, you can send them a note through an instant messaging platform, text, or even call them on the phone just like an in-person provider.

There are many clinical duties on inpatient psychiatry units that require in-person support such as psych techs, nurses, and staff for things like lab draws and physical exams. However, in terms of behavioral health specialists, virtual providers can facilitate care that is as good as, or better than, in-person providers an organization might be able to recruit.

The key to integrating virtual and in-person providers

No matter the level of clinical care, trusting your team members is key, and that means spending time together. It’s important to note that being virtual doesn’t mean a provider is sitting at home doing nothing—it’s more like they’re in an office or a hospital next door. They may be 500 miles away, but they’re still available and responsive to patient and staff needs and questions.

For example, a nurse might have a question, or a patient might need to be seen twice or more during the day for something like an exacerbation of symptoms, possible side effects, or requesting to leave. In such cases a virtual provider would come back on video to see the patient and discuss concerns with the onsite team or even gather more collateral from family.

An on-site provider might be in a different location, stuck in traffic, and unavailable. However, a virtual provider can transcend those geographic barriers and see patients quickly with little if any delay.

Virtual care lends itself to collaboration and integration with on-site teams quite well. It allows for flexible, timely, and patient-centered care.

Virtual behavioral health programs and inpatient care

Continuity of care is critical to the patient experience. When you’re working with complex patients, it’s important to try and have continuity of care with the techs working around them and the nurses that can know and understand the nuances of their behavior.

With a solution like Scheduled Services, which is Iris’s approach to delivering virtual care, you have a provider working in the same units day after day — or being a part of the weeknight and weekend call teams and rounding team.

Building up the sense of continuity with the team and having that trust, consistency of care, and communication with patients in their behavioral health journey in the acute setting is very important.

Generally, our providers work on inpatient units just as an in-person provider would, though virtually. They have the same meetings, experiences with patients, and communication with the care team – all to help build that continuity.

The financial benefits of virtual behavioral health programs

There are also benefits of virtual behavioral health programs that lead to better financial outcomes. For example, by treating behavioral health, patients receive more holistic care that helps treat physical conditions in tandem, better improving total cost of care and reducing length of stay.

Additionally, having a virtual behavioral health solution in place can help improve ED throughput and ensure patients aren’t staying in the hospital longer than necessary.

There have also been recent policy shifts that have created major evolutions in how CMS and congress are working to look at virtual care reimbursement. It’s been more progressive than anything I’ve seen in my last 30 years of being in this field.

Change doesn’t happen a lot in medicine, but the recent changes to promote virtual access to care, particularly for people with mental health and substance use disorder issues, have been impressive and a huge win for patients and providers alike.

The future of behavioral health care

It’s important to challenge the myth that having someone on-site is better or necessary. Healthcare is moving away from care being solely driven by what happens in a brick and mortar facility.

In the future, not only will providers be working from home, but they’re also going to be seeing acute patients in the patient’s homes–patients who might otherwise have been hospitalized—in the emerging “hospital at home” and “remote patient monitoring” models that lend themselves quite naturally to virtual care.

Virtual care is helping the healthcare industry rethink our models and how we care for patients, both in acute care settings like inpatient units and partial hospital programs. Across the spectrum of care, virtual care continues to impact patients’ lives in ways that those of us in behavioral health care can really see.

If you’d like to learn more about how Iris Telehealth can integrate virtual behavioral health programs into your hospital or health system, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us here or check out this page to learn more about Scheduled Services.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

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.

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 behavioral health treatment, and social determinants of health, patients may spend a lot of time waiting for care without ever receiving the support they need.

Bridge Care Services ensures the patients who need care first get care first – while being efficiently directed to an appropriate care plan. Keep reading to learn more about how bridge care enables Behavioral Health Integration across health systems.

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 behavioral health integration model backed by clinical and operational expertise to solve common challenges health systems face in delivering ambulatory care in a scalable and sustainable way. This model ensures patients with a behavioral health referral get timely, high-quality care and appropriate treatment and follow-up – all while improving a health system’s total cost of care.

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 sustainability 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.
  4. Quality Management: To ensure the success of any program, your care team needs high visibility into what’s going right – and what’s going wrong – across your workflows and patient and clinical outcomes. Bridge care leverages clinical support and oversights throughout the care program lifecycle to manage data-driven outcomes and demonstrate clinical and operational impact.

How Bridge Care Services works

There are six 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:

  • Cross-functional care team: Our cross-functional care team of psychiatrists, therapists, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners will fully integrate into your health system.
  • Clinical prioritization: Referred patients are entered into a risk-stratified patient registry that undergoes a clinical review to ensure the patients who need help first, get seen first.
  • Navigation assessments: A Licensed Clinical Social Worker will complete a Navigation Assessment to determine the appropriate level of care.
  • High-quality care: Patients referred to Iris will receive the appropriate care plan for their needs. Whether that is medication management, therapy or both – and whether that is short-term care or longer-term care – we ensure each patient receives efficient, quality care.
  • Collaborative transition:Once a patient can be safely managed by their primary care provider, ambulatory service, or community clinic – an Iris Care Coordinator helps facilitate a supported transition to the next care setting in the patient’s journey.
  • Iris Insights:Your health system will have the backing of Iris clinical and operational excellence to ensure sustainable behavioral health care.

Click here for a more in-depth look at how Bridge Care Services works.

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:

  • Improve total cost of care
  • Deliver optimized Behavioral Health Integration across the whole system
  • 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 longitudinal care
  • 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.

Tag Archives: Health Systems

Integrating behavioral health across all patient journeys can transform a health system and how it delivers care for its community.

As Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer at Iris Telehealth, I’ve seen first-hand the impact effective behavioral health integration can have on a health system and its patients. Whether through better clinical outcomes and access, increased revenue, or positive margins – our health system partners sustainably leverage and integrate scalable behavioral health services seamlessly across their ecosystem.

Learn how our partners are finding success by integrating behavioral health services across their health systems, what the patient journey looks like through a virtual lens, and the financial impact virtual services can have on a health system.

The tangible impact of integrating behavioral health services

Experiencing the tangible impacts of integrated behavioral health services starts by providing timely access to quality care – and making sure that care is financially sustainable.

Once the need for behavioral health care is met, health systems may experience the following benefits:

  • Better access
  • Better patient outcomes
  • Improved financials
  • Reduced total cost of care
  • A patient and provider community that feels supported

Helping health systems take back control of a fragmented healthcare landscape

Today, health systems are being disaggregated by a myriad of competitors – both new and old. This trend is contributing to lower health system revenue, but also to a further fragmentation of the patient journey. At Iris, we want to help health systems take back control of this fragmentation to ensure patients are getting integrated, whole-person care.

We believe providing integrated behavioral healthcare is a critical component to patient care. The reality is – behavioral healthcare should be infused into every journey. Whether a patient just received a cancer diagnosis, is an expecting mother, or is experiencing escalating anxiety at a primary care appointment, integrating behavioral health care will drive better patient care and eliminate the need for a patient to look elsewhere to fill gaps in their care needs.

At the end of the day, our goal is to help health systems deliver on their ultimate promise of delivering whole-person, integrated care.

How to integrate virtual services across a health system

The mistake many health systems make is believing that integrating virtual care into their health system is as simple as having virtual providers available to see patients. In practice, it is much more nuanced. We believe in the concept of “integrating virtual care locally” – whereby the referring provider knows and trusts the behavioral health care team they are relying on, and the virtual team truly knows the local dynamics. This approach is really the only way to build trust and create true continuity of care.

Additionally, the care experience has to be the same whether a patient is part of an Iris program or not. That is why our entire patient journey is built with the idea of integrating into, and leveraging, the health system technology already in place. The Iris provider is integrated seamlessly into the health system and the patient journey feels no different than it would if they were seeing an in-person provider.

The financial impact of integrating behavioral health services

The financial realities of providing behavioral healthcare are undoubtedly a challenge. But, in our experience, it is possible to deliver high-quality behavioral health care and have it be financially sustainable.

We have helped health systems double their behavioral health revenue while delivering a 10% program operating margin. And, study after study shows that providing outpatient behavioral healthcare reduces the total cost of care.

How is this impact possible? It comes down to the disciplined execution of a few key tenets:

  • First, ensure you’re driving top-of-license care from a true care team approach. Yes, it is essential to have psychiatrists available for high acuity patients, but from our experience, we’ve seen psychiatrists relied on too heavily for patient care than what is clinically appropriate. That is why we leverage industry-leading navigation assessments, with a true care team approach to make sure every patient is seen by their optimal provider with a tailored care plan.
  • Second, be sure to optimize the operational complexities of care delivery. Patient no-show rates, provider turnover, full provider panels, and consultation with referring providers are all critical to ensuring the program is sustainable.
  • Finally, revenue cycle optimization is critical. Many health systems are not getting paid optimally for the care they provide and that has to change. Revenue cycle optimization means ensuring the optimal codes are being billed, providers are documenting appropriately, and payers are approving claims. Constant measurement, continuous improvement and dialogue with payers are critical, and can make a significant difference.

It is a reality that if there is “no money, there is no mission,” and therefore we are dedicated to ensuring our programs deliver on high clinical quality and financial sustainability.

The spirit of partnership with Iris Telehealth

At Iris, one of our core values is to suck less every day, which speaks to our commitment to continuous improvement and our journey to excellence. No health system has behavioral health figured out, and no health system expects to be perfect tomorrow. Everyone’s on a journey to be better than they were yesterday. If together we commit to continual improvement, we will make a lot of progress and deliver better care for our communities.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can work together, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

As Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, Dan Ferris drives strategy and revenue growth acceleration by identifying market opportunities and increasing awareness of how Iris can uniquely solve customer needs. Dan brings twenty years of healthcare experience in various marketing, product and strategy roles at Hillrom, CIGNA, Abbott, and Putnam Associates, a healthcare strategy consultancy.

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 behavioral health diagnosis get the best 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 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.

The challenges hospitals face with delivering quality 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 integrated behavioral health care can help promote positive patient outcomes. This solution fills care 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 integrated behavioral health 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 the structure and support needed for ongoing 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 quality, integrated behavioral health care essential.

The power of high-quality care and support after discharge

A dedicated bridge care program solves access at scale. Bridge Care Services bridges the gap with integrated behavioral health 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.
  • Coordinated transition: Effective communication and care coordination 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. This practice ensures seamless communication and updates the next provider on the treatment plan, including medication adjustments and patient progress.

Integrated behavioral health care in action

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 care they need to address their behavioral 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 behavioral health care in your health system, contact us today!

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.