JSA Health Telepsychiatry is very pleased to announce a groundbreaking, first of it’s kind use of telepsychiatry. Project EMPATH … Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Assessment via TeleHealth … is a new program designed to help first responder police officers obtain emergency telepsychiatry evaluations in real time when first encountering mental health patients in the field. The program is designed to help mental health patients obtain the care they need in the community … and defer transports by police officers to emergency departments, psychiatric emergency rooms, and jail.
Project EMPATH is a joint effort of JSA Health Telepsychiatry, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Cloud 9 Software, the University of Texas Health Sciences Center Houston, and Verizon. The initial pilot project will will encompass evaluating 25 – 30 persons in mental health crisis … after which a thorough outcome evaluation will be done to document effectiveness. EMPATH is expected to show that Harris County residents who receive telepsychiatry evaluations will be able to continue functioning in the community without a need for emergency detention … and that the resulting fewer transports to emergency rooms and jails … and therefore fewer inpatient hospitalizations … will have cost savings in the millions of dollars for Harris County.
The Houston Chronicle published the following article regarding Project EMPATH which vividly depicts the program:

Sheriff’s office tests out new telepsych program for mental health crises in the field
By Keri Blakinger Published 8:01 pm, Monday, December 18, 2017

The nice old man near Old Town Spring calls 911 every month or so to complain about people hiding in the attic of his home.

There’s nothing there, of course, except the inventions of his dementia and schizoaffective disorder. But he’s now on a first-name basis with the sheriff’s office Crisis Intervention Response Team.

They don’t arrest him, not even when they find 55 gallons of gasoline stashed in the attic to keep out the imaginary people.

Now the Harris County Sheriff’s Office may have a better solution. A new telepsychiatry pilot program debuting Tuesday will arm deputies with tablets equipped to dial in to psychiatrists for urgent video chats, offering professional help out in the field to people who don’t necessarily need to go to jail or an emergency room.

The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, officials said.

“It will help better assess things and find a better outcome,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “We can better pinpoint the best way to deal with each individual.”

Telepsychiatry programs are already in use in some county jails and juvenile lock-ups, but the possibility of using it in the field is the brainchild of Dr. Avrim Fishkind, a psychiatrist who is CEO of Houston-based JSA Health Corp.

“If you think about it, the rub with psychiatrists is that there aren’t any — it takes months to see them,” he said. “I kind of got tired of hearing people complain we were never there to help anybody.”

Now, they’ll be on call 24/7. But aside from making psychiatrists more accessible to those in the throes of a mental health crisis, the program could end up saving the county money.

“These are multimillion-dollar savings, potentially,” Fishkind said. “Typical mental health and jail stays are thousands of dollars.”

His company, founded in 2007, already makes use of a fleet of some 70 psychiatrists to offer telemedicine services from California to Louisiana. But those services weren’t portable; most of the clients were hospitals and community clinics.

So to bring the concept to the streets, he approached Cloud 9, an Austin-based start-up that had already developed an app to let psychiatrists securely video chat with clients in their homes.

With a few tweaks to the software, developers were able to make the program work for first responders in the field. Verizon pitched in to offer free use of tablets and the cellular network, and the pilot was born.

The program will run for eight weeks or until it’s used in 25 to 30 calls, whichever comes first, according to Frank Webb, an HCSO project manager.

For starters, only a handful of deputies and supervisors will carry around the telepsych-equipped tablets.

The logistics are straightforward. When a deputy or the Crisis Intervention Response Team is dispatched to a call involving a mental health crisis, they can dial in to JSA and alert them. Then, according to JSA clinical operations manager Terrie Mayfield, the call goes into a queue for help, and by the time they arrive a psychiatrist can be on stand-by.

After a videochat session, the psychiatrist will be able to help frame a solution.

The rest of the article can be found by clicking here.
For the telepsychiatrists at JSA Health … this kind of innovation is what emergency telepsychiatry is all about … changing the lives of persons with mental illness … wherever and whenever the need arises.


JSA Health Telepsychiatry is a behavioral health telemedicine practice that provides 24/7 access to high quality telepsychiatry care for a wide variety of settings including emergency departments, community health clinics, educational institutions, correctional facilities and a wide variety of distant locations including cruise ships throughout the world’s oceans. We use high-definition HIPAA compliant telemedicine technologies to connect patients and healthcare organizations to experienced mental health professionals. For more information please call 1-888-792-7122 or email at info@jsahealthmd.com.