Telepsychiatry Companies

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. 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 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 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. 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 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 emergency departments and hospitals don’t know where to start. Fortunately, telepsychiatry can help.

In this post, we’ll explore various challenges organizations face in the ED and how telepsychiatry can improve throughput in EDs and increase access to quality mental health care.

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 throughput in the ED?

Telepsychiatry equips hospital EDs with the much-needed ability 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.

What’s more, telepsychiatry helps ease the stress on attending ED physicians and staff by providing them with top-notch psychiatry providers who can quickly assess, treat, and disposition your patients — freeing your ED team up to focus on treating patients who come in for medical and surgical needs.

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 38% of Americans have used telehealth services to meet with a medical or mental health professional. The report also highlights that nearly six in 10 would use telehealth services for mental healthcare. As the public’s acceptance grows, more and more healthcare organizations are following their lead. In the American Hospital Association’s report on telehealth, as of 2017, 76% of hospitals reported utilizing telehealth.

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. In most cases, questions tend to arise about the equipment needed for telepsychiatry consultations, such as where it will be located and who will be responsible for coordinating the machine. By partnering with a telepsychiatry vendor like Iris Telehealth, we act as a technology-agnostic addition to your team by integrating seamlessly 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. A telepsychiatrist, in collaboration with on-call staff, is able to assess patients, manage risks, and create a treatment plan to properly treat patients — just like an in-person visit.
  3. Changing ED culture
    Another tough objection is getting staff on board with telepsychiatry in the ED. Attending physicians and staff are used to — and often prefer — providers to be in close proximity to them due to ease of access and collaboration. Although working with telepsychiatry providers can be hard on staff at first, it is something that teams can overcome through open communication, education on processes and procedures, and making sure that staff is always supported. When EDs partner with Iris Telehealth, we offer organizations and our providers 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 to better serve their community. Telepsych providers can assess a patient’s needs and manage their risk to ensure each patient receives proper treatment and is dispositioned quickly. Along with this benefit, patients experience several other advantages, including:

  • 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. No matter if a patient comes in needing help in the wee hours of the morning or during regular business hours, a provider will be available to cover your emergency department.

When telepsychiatry is implemented into the emergency department, doctors and staff can focus on medical and surgical treatments and reduce the length of mental health patients’ stays. 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. In fact, 59% of people say they would use telehealth for their mental healthcare, and by 2029, behavioral health visits may increase by 50%. As telehealth becomes the norm, organizations see the benefits by way of on-demand resources, cost savings, and additional expertise.

On-demand resources: Telepsychiatry serves as a 24/7 resource for organizations and their patients – allowing patients access to high-quality providers who can assess their needs and manage risk to ensure each patient receives proper treatment, around-the-clock.

Cost savings: This virtual solution helps hospitals meet their organizational and financial needs by helping them avoid unnecessary bed holds. Additionally, since healthcare spending makes up a large portion of any community’s economy (especially rural communities), telepsychiatry services can give medical assistance to local individuals, so they don’t need to travel outside the community for their care.

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

Iris Telehealth’s mission is to make sure that no matter where someone seeks mental health help, they receive the best care and treatment possible. When a patient comes through the emergency department seeking mental health services, it’s critical that their throughput wait time is at a minimum and access to high-quality care is seamless.

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

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 can make a decision, there are several components you should consider, like patient comfort, how to ensure the right provider fit, and the relationship between technology and software.

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.

Telehealth mirrors on-site care: Fortunately, good telepsychiatry reflects on-site patient care in nearly every way — regardless of setting. The “tele” part is just a tool that connects your patients with a high-quality behavioral health provider in a virtual environment.

Integration is vital: The proper workflows paired with consistent, simple technology can help telepsychiatrists 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. The ultimate goal is for the technology to fade into the background during the appointment.

The patient’s perspective on telepsychiatry

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 telemedicine 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.

Finding the right provider

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

First, telepsychiatrists should maintain flexibility. 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.

Finding the right provider match can be challenging. That’s why it’s essential to be open and honest about your patient population, your clinical expectations, and the characteristics you are looking for in a provider. When a provider is passionate about the type of work they will be doing, it’s a “win-win-win” for the provider, for you, and your patients.

How telepsychiatry technology and software work

Technology should remove barriers to care and increase accessibility. At the health system level, questions tend to arise about the equipment needed for telepsychiatry consultations, such as where it will be located and who will be responsible for coordinating the machine.

However, when partnering with a technology-agnostic vendor like Iris Telehealth, your telepsychiatry solution can integrate seamlessly into your current systems and equipment you’re already using. At Iris, we also ensure all staff are trained on best practices for using technology and are comfortable with it as well.

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

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 expected to worsen in the coming months. Community and inpatient resources for mental healthcare 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
  • Poor patient satisfaction (due to long wait times)

In this post, we’ll share how telepsychiatry for hospitals can revolutionize behavioral health services in the ED — and other patient care areas. Telepsychiatry can ultimately boost mental health access, patient satisfaction, and hospital cost savings. We’ll also discuss three things you can consider when starting a telepsychiatry program for health systems or hospitals.

Telepsychiatry can improve access and patient satisfaction

Emergency telepsychiatry services allow hospitals to give patients faster access to high-quality psychiatric care through a virtual visit. This 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 telepsychiatry can offer a more comfortable, high-quality, and efficient ED experience for patients experiencing critical mental health conditions.

Telepsychiatry can increase hospital discharge and follow-up rates

Studies have found that EDs that don’t use 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.

Not only that, but observation services can 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.

In short, the current approach to behavioral health management is just not sustainable given today’s evolving healthcare landscape, which has become more focused on value than on the number of services provided.

Telepsychiatry can accelerate and enhance patient care, thereby improving patient outcomes and reducing the use of the ED

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.

A look beyond the ED: The future of telepsychiatry in hospitals

As patient needs grow more complex, we’re discovering opportunities for 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, where 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-agnostic. 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 telemedicine 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 not only ensure compliance but also help 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 telepsychiatric 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

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).

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).

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.