Mar 262015





In 2006, because of the importance and impending challenges confronting Texas in dealing with the problem of medically indigent individuals, the 10 major academic health institutions in the state sponsored a Task Force to identify strategies for confronting medically indigent care in Texas. These institutions are Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A & M, North Texas, Texas Tech, and the six health institutions of The University of Texas System. The Task Force consisted of individuals selected for their expertise and perspectives with regard to the problem of indigent health care in Texas. Members of the Task Force served as individuals and do not represent any organizations or special interests.

Since its inception, the Code Red Task Force on Access to Health Care in Texas (Task Force) has studied the issues, deliberated, and provided recommendations on improving the health of Texas residents. To improve the health of all Texas residents, the Code Red Task Force recommends the use of available federal funds to allow more low-income, working Texans to obtain health insurance. A significant amount of federal funds are currently used by Texas hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and other health care providers to supplement the low reimbursement rates for the care of Medicaid patients, and to offset the costs of care for the uninsured. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), these payments will be significantly reduced in order to pay for the expansion of health insurance coverage across the country. Such reductions strike especially deep for Texas health care providers due to the rapid increase in population, the high rate of uninsured in our state and the related high cost and increasing amount of uncompensated care.

JSA Health Telepsychiatry solutes the work of the Code Red Task Force with regards to behavioral health and applauds their recognition of telepsychiatry to emergency departments. From the 2015 report:

Recommendation 4. The Task Force recommends continuation of state support for behavioral health initiatives undertaken during the 83rd Legislative Session in 2013. The Task Force recommends that public and private entities:

• Integrate the full continuum of behavioral health services into the overall health care system in order to provide the right care in the right place at the right time. This will include behavioral/primary care teams in health homes, emergency care teams, inpatient services, and community rehabilitation services. Community health workers will be trained in behavioral and physical health subject matter and the relationship/integration of the two.

Increase the availability of tele-psychiatry in emergency departments, health homes, and school settings.

• Collaborate with the Veterans Health Administration to increase resources and services for veterans with behavioral health issues.

• Expand proven behavioral health crisis intervention programs to reduce inappropriate and ineffective involvement of persons in crisis with the criminal justice system.

Approximately 20% of the Texas population experiences occasional behavioral health problems and 4% of the population suffers from serious mental illness. Among these are approximately 300,000 children with a serious behavioral health problem, including a significant number of adolescents with depression. Three quarters of Texas counties are designated as mental health professional shortage areas with a significant lack of both adult and child psychiatrists. Texas ranks 49th among the states in per capita spending on mental health services even though the Texas Legislature provided over $300 million for the 2014-2015 biennium to improve mental health services. A significant shortage of state-funded hospital beds for patients with serious mental health issues creates enormous pressures on public hospital emergency rooms and the criminal justice system. Emergency rooms must often “board” patients for extended periods due to the lack of psychiatric beds. In addition, behavioral health issues are among the most frequent reasons for hospital readmissions. The criminal justice system incarcerates a substantial number of prisoners who suffer principally from a mental health condition negatively impacting their behavior. Promising approaches for improved behavioral health care, such as crisis stabilization teams and tele-psychiatry, are underway as DSRIP projects.




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

Jan 292015

UTMB Health has contracted with JSA Health Telepsychiatry to provide round the clock, on-demand telepsychiatry evaluations at it’s hospitals in Galveston and Angleton, Texas. The program was developed in coordination with Gulf Coast Mental Health Center and it brings a fresh model to handling psychiatric emergencies that will allow for discharge from the emergency departments directly to Gulf Coast Center mobile crisis outreach teams.

It is a great honor for JSA to be chosen for this project as UTMB is well regarded as the major pioneer in telemedicine in the United States. The goals of the project are to decrease emergency lengths of stay and improve clinical outcomes for  mental health patients in crisis. Historically, mental health patients who are discharged from emergency rooms to homes or shelters have a difficult time making it to outpatient appointments. With the use of the Gulf Coast Center Mobile Crisis Team to follow and link patients, it is our hope that recidivism of patients back to the emergency room will be vastly decreased, and therefore quality of life and community tenure for mental health patients in the Gulf Coast regions will be vastly improved.

From the Gulf Coast Regional Healthcare Partnership Plan:


Title of project: Telemedicine Access to ED and Adult MH routine services

Provider: The Gulf Coast Center (GCC) is the mental health authority and substance abuse
recovery provider through the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for Galveston
and Brazoria Counties. The Gulf Coast Center provides a complete array of services to those
with mental health, recovery and intellectual and developmental disability needs. The Gulf
Coast Center adult services are currently charged with serving 1759 adults, although currently
serving more than 2400 adults. Galveston County covers 873 square miles and Brazoria County
covers 1386 square miles.

Intervention: The project will implement telemedicine into the ED for individuals presenting
with emergent psychiatric complaints and into the local community mental health Intake
offices to provide improved access for psychiatric discharge follow-ups, post ED consult followups,
and routine access assessments.

Need for project: The primary focus of ED physicians is traditionally on health care issues. They
do not necessarily involve themselves in behavioral health issues. This results in frequent
referrals for hospitalization due to psychiatric conditions that could otherwise be amelirated by
immediate psychiatric care. Making psychiatrists readily available in the local EDs via
telemedicine would enhance the treatment options for those experiencing a behavioral health
crisis and avoid unnecessary psychiatric admissions. Providing a telemedicine psychiatrist will
enhance the treatment options for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis and avoid
unnecessary psychiatric admissions. Psychiatrist availability for routine access in the local
mental health Intake department is very limited and results in less than optimum appointment
wait times for more complex cases and continuity of care. The limited availability of psychiatrist
time also results in lengthy waits for initial psychiatric evaluations and increased potential for
hospital admits and readmissions.

Target population: The target population of the project is persons in need of Psychiatric
consultations to determine the appropriate level of care and to prevent unnecessary admits
and readmissions into inpatient facilities. Approximately 50% of persons seen are either
Medicaid eligible or low income uninsured individuals and have limited access to behavioral
health care. We expect they will benefit from improved access to psychiatric consults to avoid
unnecessary hospital admissions.

Learn more about this project and other innovative Gulf Coast Regional Healthcare Partnership projects here.

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

Aug 292014



Clarity Child Guidance Center Turns To JSA Health Telepsychiatry for Acute Care Psychiatric Evaluations

JSA Health is proud to announce a new partnership with Clarity Child Guidance Center. Clarity offers a unique set of crisis services for children adolescents 24/7 in San Antonio, Texas. JSA psychiatrists will be evaluating patients for admission to Acute Care, On Campus 24 Hour Treatment and On Campus Day Treatment. JSA’s unique on demand services for children and adolescents will allow Clarity to maximize it’s ability to serve children and adolescents round the clock.

More about Clarity Child Guidance Center from their Website:

About Us

Clarity Child Guidance Center exists to transform the lives of children and families. We are the only nonprofit treatment center specializing in children ages 3-17 in San Antonio and South Texas. We provide compassionate mental health care. Our inpatient and outpatient programs include a range of services including crisis stabilization, psychiatric evaluations, and ongoing therapy. We have the region’s largest staff of children’s mental health professionals at our two family-friendly campuses and several satellite locations. As a United Way agency, we provide greatly needed mental health care for children who could not otherwise afford to receive treatment.

Programs and Services

The decision to find help for a child with behavioral or emotional issues is not an easy one. At Clarity Child Guidance Center, we would like to give you assurance you have made the right choice. The sooner your child can be evaluated and an individual treatment program designed, the sooner they will be on a path of hope and recovery.

Our first goal is to work with your family to identify the cause of the major problems facing your child. Your treatment program depends on the severity and specific needs of your child and the family’s wishes. it could include one or more of the following:

Acute Care

The term “acute” means severe or intense. If a child or teenager is in crisis, and at risk to harm himself or others, acute care is designed to help quickly stabilize the situation. It involves immediate evaluation and admission, 24-hour nurse and doctor attention, medication if needed and a plan for  future treatment. Acute care can be accessed by phone 24/7.

On-campus 24-hour Treatment

When a child or teenager has trouble functioning well outside of a structured and monitored environment, on-campus 24-hour treatment may be the answer. It offers a full schedule of group therapies and activities in a secure, hospital-based setting.

On-campus Day Treatment

Children who experience significant problems at home and school but do not need inpatient treatment, may be able to receive treatment at Clarity Child Guidance Center during the day while still living at home. The program includes therapy, recreational therapy and life coaching plus regular attendance at our on-campus school so your child can keep up with their classes. To access this service, please call our admissions team.


Clarity Child Guidance Center is in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. We commit ourselves to providing care that is nondiscriminatory and responsive to the needs of the handicapped or sensory impaired patient/family. The hospital has a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator on staff during regular business hours. We employ the services of outside agencies to provide both in-person and video remote interpreters. For more information about these services contact our coordinator:

Christina Attebery (210) 582-6411.

May 192014

Nurses station

JSA Health Telepsychiatry is pleased to announce that our emergency telepsychiatrists will be supporting the Seton Psychiatric Emergency Department (SPED) at Seton Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas. JSA telepsychiatrists will continue to assist mental health patients  throughout the Seton Family of Hospitals system currently at seven locations in central Texas. JSA will be augmenting the services of on-site psychiatrists at SPED and participating via telemedicine as a full fledged member of SPED multidisciplinary treatment team of nurses and social workers.

More information from KVUE News in Austin, Texas:

JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist Erin Coker and editor Rob Diaz  5/18/2014

New psychiatric ER set to open

“It’s pretty early in my shift today, but so far I’ve seen five patients, and three have been psychiatric illness,” said Christopher Ziebell, M.D., the Emergency Department Medical Director at UMCB.

Ziebell is not a psychiatrist. He says often it can take a day or two to get behavioral health patients aligned with the proper physicians, and that can cause a serious backup in the waiting room.

“Because instead of turning the bed over every 60-90 minutes, I’ve got someone who is occupying that bed for 36-48 hours,” he said.

“When those patients are taking up a bed, that’s a bed that’s not available to someone in the community who’s having a heart attack or appendicitis or stroke or whatever,” said Ziebell.

It’s why Seton established a Psychiatric Emergency Department on site — with seven rooms for “treat and release” patients and 10 for acute patients held involuntarily or needing transfer to a higher level of care.

“We’re going to have 24/7 expertise across a lot of disciplines that will help people who are experiencing any kind of behavioral health crisis,” said Kari Wolf, M.D., the VP of Medical Affairs for Psychiatry at Seton Family. “That doesn’t exist anywhere in this community right now.”

All the rooms here at the Seton Psychiatric Emergency Department are designed with the patient’s safety in mind. Even things as simple as plastic bed frames with rounded corners. Besides the 24/7 care, perhaps the biggest benefit to patients will be the calm environment.

“If someone is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, the last thing they want to do is be in a noisy, busy, crowded emergency department where there’s all sorts of chaos going on,” said Wolf.

The new Seton Psychiatric Emergency Department will only serve adults — so anyone 17 and under will have to be taken to another facility.

Click here for more information on the facility.

May 122014




The American Telemedicine Association has awarded the 2014 Innovation in Remote Health Care Award to JSA Health Telepsychiatry and the Burke Center of Lufkin, Texas for the Burke Mental Health Emergency Center.

The Innovation in Remote Health Care Award is given to the program that meets the following criteria:

  1. Innovative new technology development or adaptation
  2. Novel use of technology leading to innovative health applications and social services support at the individual or community level
  3. Creative strategies for removing barriers to implementation and adoption
  4. Innovative approaches to fostering partnerships and collaboration
  5. Innovative ways responding to needs of end-users, improve ergonomics
  6. New ideas, concepts, formulation and paradigms, and new ways of thinking “outside the box”

The Mental Health Emergency Center (MHEC) model was developed by Dr. Avrim Fishkind of JSA Health Telepsychiatry as a consultant for the Burke Center. The MHEC model has gone on to win the American Psychiatric Association Gold Award in 2o11 and the National Council for Behavioral HealthCare Innovations Award in 2013.

What follows is the supporting information submitted for the award:

  • Innovative new technology development or adaptation:

The Burke Mental Health Emergency Center (MHEC) is the first Psychiatric Emergency Service in the world full served only by emergency telepsychiatrists. Previously, any patients in psychiatric crisis in rural and remote areas of America faced lengthy drives, frequently handcuffed in the back of police vehicles…sometimes driving hundreds of miles to the nearest hospital or crisis center.

Adapting telemedicine to emergency psychiatry has allowed access to emergency psychiatrists in a wide variety of remote locations including community psychaitric emergency centers, community mental health centers, jails, public and private schools, colleges and universities, homeless shelters, federally qualified health centers, hospital emergency departments, and even cruise ships in most oceans of the world.


  • Novel use of technology leading to innovative health applications and social services support at the individual or community level


Prior to the development of the MHEC model, psychiatric emergency services existed only in teritary care, primarily medical school based emergency departments.  The community impact of MHECs is immense and includes:

  • Prevention of hospital emergency departments having to go on diversion because of psychiatric emergency patients boarding in emergency departments – in the USA ranging between 1 and 21 days waiting for inpatient psychiatric hospital beds
  • Decreased time in which police have to wait with psychiatric patients in emergency departments while mental health patients await assessment, treatment and transfer to other levels of care
  • A more welcoming and less coercive atmosphere for psychiatric patients and their families experiencing a psychiatric crisis
  • Alternatives to putting patients experiencing a psychiatric crisis in either jail or an inpatient hospital bed by providing the MHEC based community alternative to jail and hospitalization
  • Savings to the communithy of $1700 per crisis episode by using MHEC versus jail or hospitalization
  • Assistance to the judicial system by providing expert opinions and assessment allowing for judges to decide to divert patients from the legal system in acute psychiatric or substance abuse treatment.


  • Creative strategies for removing barriers to implementation and adoption

Burke MHEC came together through a massive and creative strategy to get diverse agencies (Police, EMR, Judicial Courts, Emergency Departments, Community Mental Health Centers, Advocates for the Mentally Ill…and more) to see the need for a regional and rural psychiatric emergency center. The process included:

      • Obtaining a HRSA Network Development Planning Grant
      • Needs assessment for the region done by a local university
      • Formation of advisory boards in all 12 counties involved
      • Legislators representing all 12 counties included
      • Obtained cash matches from hospitals shouldering the burden of caring for patients in psychiatric crisis to build and maintain the MHEC
      • Obtained funding from each county Commissioner’s Court
      • Obtained matching funding from the Temple Foundation
      • Lobied Texas State Department of Health Services to put up $1.6 million annual grand funding


  • Innovative approaches to fostering partnerships and collaboration

See Number 3 above

  • New ideas, concepts, formulation and paradigms, and new ways of thinking “outside the box”
      • Bringing emergency psychiatric to remote areas where there are no psychiatrists and provide the service 24/7/365
      • Provide emergency telepsychiatry to both voluntary and involuntary patients presenting for treatment.
      • Use telepsychiatry to vastly decrease the use of seclusion, restraint and forced medications creating a less coercive enviroment to provide psychiatric crisis treatment
      • Apply telepsychiatry to emergency psychiatry across all diagnoses and presentations
      • Provide adequate medical care and treatment at the MHEC facility to prevent 92% of presenting patients from needing any form of medical clearance at and emergency department.
      • Demonstrate how telemedicine can save money, increase access to care, and diminish the need for hospitalizations in behavioral health emergencies…previously thought to be impossible.


JSA Health Telepsychiatry is please to accept this award, and looks forward to the future development of the Mental Health Emergency Center model.

Apr 212014

50 years ago today, the public got its first taste of video calls



It seemed like the inevitable future at the time, we’re sure. On April 20th in 1964, Bell Telephone showed off the Mod 1 Picturephone — a precursor to the Skype and Hangouts video calls that have become a standard but under-utilized feature of modern communications. The demonstration was part of the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, visitors were able to step into a booth and have a conversation with a person thousands of miles away in Disneyland. But instead of just talking into a handset, users sat in front of an oblong device that housed both a video screen and a camera. The service delivered a 30 frame-per-second black-and-white feed to wowed Fair-goers. A few months later, in June of the same year, AT&T took the service commercial.

Of course, as we all know the service was a flop. At $16 for three minutes of video calling, Picturephone was prohibitively expensive. Despite pumping millions of dollars into the effort, Bell could never get any traction. Mod II released in 1969 also failed to capture anything more than the imagination and a corporate videoconferencing descendant also proved to be too costly. Others tried and failed as well, it wasn’t until decades later that Skype finally seemed to make video calling a practical proposition. Still, if you’re wondering where the whole thing got its start, you need look no further than Queens, just a few minutes walk from where the New York Mets make their home.


JSA Health Telepsychiatry solutes these pioneers.

Mar 292014


JSA Health Telepsychiatry is pleased to announce the opening of the Emergence Health Network Extended Observation Unit (EOU). JSA Health’s  CEO Dr. Avrim Fishkind designed the clinical programming and the actual physical site plans.

The Emergence EOU is the latest example of JSA’s exclusive model of providing emergency telepsychiatry to freestanding mental health emergency centers. The Emergence EOU will lead to the following for the city of El Paso:

  • Fewer persons with mental illness being taken to emergency departments or the jail
  • Ready access for persons with mental illness and their families to get help in times of crisis…24/7
  • A safe and comfortable place to resolve mental health emergencies free from coercion
  • Extensive tax dollar savings using crisis resolutions instead of inpatient hospitalization

From the Emergence Health Network website:

The purpose of the new facility will be to get people who are in states of psychiatric crisis the right help, sooner. Before, people acting erratically, suicidal or experiencing other rapid changes in behavior would often be taken to the emergency room or be picked up by police and taken to jail.The new 12 bed extended observation unit will allow police to bring individuals with sudden severe mental health issues directly to crisis stabilization services.

After examining potential patients, staff will have up to 48 hours to determine what further treatment may be necessary.

“So we’re trying to divert people from more expensive and appropriate levels of care, and provide services to keep them stable and in the community,” said Kristen Daugherty, Emergence CEO. “And El Paso does not have anything like that right now. and we believe that it will add to our efforts to better our behavioral health system, and provide the services that our community deserves.”


More information about Emergence Health Network can be found here.


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 and correctional facilities. We use high-definition HIPAA compliant telemedicine technologies to connect patients and healthcare organizations to experienced mental health professionals.

Mar 132014




JSA Health Telepsychiatry is pleased to announce a partnership with Austin, Texas based CommUnityCare. JSA will be providing a flexible array of integrated behavioral – physical health interventions.

CommUnityCare primary care physicians will be able to request an on demand consultation with JSA … the consultation will proceed with telemedicine with the patient, the primary care physician, and the JSA Health Telepsychiatrist all meeting together at the same time.  The primary care physician can also choose to have a regular psychiatric consultation done at a scheduled time of the patient’s choosing. JSA Health Telepsychiatrists can complete the consult then schedule the patient for psychiatric follow-up or hand the patient back to the CommUnityCare primary care physician for further recommended treatment.

CommUnityCare provides exemplary mental health services including in house psychotherapy and crisis counseling which will be supplemented with JSA Health Telepsychiatry services.


From the CommUnityCare website:

Our History

In 1970 the Austin City Council partnered with the Travis County Commissioner’s Court to develop a system of primary care, dental care, and family planning clinics. The goal of this effort was to serve residents of Travis County whose incomes and lack of private health insurance kept them from being able to access healthcare services in the community. In 1992, the clinic system earned “Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike” status through the federal government. A 15-member Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Board of Directors was appointed. Their job is to govern the Community Health Center system. It was required that a majority of the board’s members be active patients in the system. These board members represent the populations served by the centers in terms of ethnicity, race, sex, age, and economic status.

In 2001, the Community Health Center system received a Section 330 federal grant from the Bureau of Primary Health Care/Health Resources and Service Administration. The Community Health Centers were officially designated a “Federally Qualified Health Center” system. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) represent a vital safety net in the nation’s health delivery system. A growing nationwide network of more than 1,250 FQHCs serves twenty million people. Congress created the FQHC program to support primary care providers who serve larger numbers of uninsured residents and operate in medically underserved communities. The scope of services offered by FQHCs must meet strict requirements. This includes providing accessible care to uninsured patients, and having a board that represents the community.

Central Health (formerly the Travis County Healthcare District) was founded in 2004 as a limited-purpose taxing district. It is responsible for providing healthcare to indigent persons residing in Travis County. At that time, funding and oversight for the Community Health Center system was under the City of Austin before it was transferred to Central Health. In 2009, the Community Health Center system became a private, non-profit corporation named CommUnityCare. It currently operates with an annual budget of approximately $64.5 million and serves about 66,000 patients. The majority of funding comes from Central Health and the Federal Bureau of Primary Health Care. Public and private grants and gifts from donors also support the work of CommUnityCare.  In 2010, CommUnityCare was accredited by The Joint Commission, which recognizes quality healthcare institutions around the world.

Our Vision
Improve the health of the community by increasing access to the best care possible.

Our Mission
We will work with the community as peers with open eyes and a responsive attitude to provide the right care, at the right time, at the right place.

Our Services Today
Today, CommUnityCare provides services at 22 locations in Travis County. Each year, our health centers provide approximately 220,000 medical and dental patient appointments. This number represents more than 62,000 individual patients. CommUnityCare provides outpatient primary healthcare, dental care, limited specialty care, and behavioral health services. We also provide HIV/AIDS treatment at our David Powell location, and care for the homeless at the ARCH. These services are provided to Travis County residents whose incomes and lack of private health insurance qualify them for enrollment. Two of our locations, Hancock and William Cannon, were designed to expand access by providing walk-in services to patients in our system. These clinics offer extended hours and weekend care.  Many of our providers speak several languages and we also utilize a telephone medical translation service for less common foreign languages.  That means we serve patients from all over the world.


You can learn more about CommUnityCare here.


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 and correctional facilities. We use high-definition HIPAA compliant telemedicine technologies to connect patients and healthcare organizations to experienced mental health professionals.

Mar 132014


JSA Health Telepsychiatry is pleased to announce a partnership with St. David’s HealthCare.

Under the agreement, JSA Health is providing it’s award winning on-demand psychiatric emergency consultations to three Travis County, Texas based medical centers: St. David’s Medical Center, St David’s North Austin Medical Center, and St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. JSA Health Telepsychiatrists is providing child, adolescent, adult and geriatric consultations on demand … 24 hours a day … 7 days a week.

St. David’s HealthCare serves the entire Central Texas region. With six hospitals, four ambulatory surgery centers and 12 outpatient sites, no matter where you live in the area you are never far from the best care available. Every year, more than a quarter million people visit one of our emergency departments. Whether they are having a baby or receiving life-saving surgery, more Central Texans choose St. David’s hospitals than any other hospital system.

St. David’s Medical Center was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of healthcare. The award recognizes hospitals that have achieved excellence in clinical outcomes, patient safety, patient satisfaction, financial performance and operational efficiency.

The winners were identified through an in-depth analysis, the Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals®: National Benchmarks study. The study evaluated 3,000 short-term, acute care, non-federal hospitals in nine areas: mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average length of stay, expenses, profitability, cash-to-debt ratio, patient satisfaction and adherence to clinical standards of care.

According to Thomson Reuters, if all Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as Medicare patients treated in the winning hospitals:

• More than 107,500 additional patients would survive each year.
• Nearly 132,000 patient complications would be avoided annually.
• Expenses would decline by $5.9 billion a year.
• The average patient stay would decrease by nearly half a day.

More information on this study and other 100 Top Hospitals research is available at


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 and correctional facilities. We use high-definition HIPAA compliant telemedicine technologies to connect patients and healthcare organizations to experienced mental health professionals.

Feb 162014

 Study Shows Telepsychiatry Effective for Alaska Elders

Study Shows Telepsychiatry Effective for Alaska Elders


KNBA Public Radio/New America Media , News Feature, Joaqlin Estus, Posted: Feb 13, 2014
Photo: Shown are staffers from the Alaska Psychiatric Institute showing off their Telebehavioral Health Care Services Initiative screens for patients in rural and frontier Alaska.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska–Because of Alaska’s vast distances, federal, state, tribal, private and military medical care providers have long been enthusiastic users of telecommunications. Now, long-distance psychiatric care is on the rise, a practice health officials say allows more people access to the care they need.

Ron Hale is acting CEO of the Anchorage-based Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API). He says for several years, API has been using videoconferences to link patients in rural Alaska with social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists in Anchorage, an approach he says helps patients avoid the stress and expense of traveling to urban centers for treatment.

“So I think just the transportation costs, and then all the other unintended costs that go along with that, traveling through Alaska [are a problem],” says Hale. “You’re out of your village. You have costs if someone travels with you. You have food and lodging. There’s all sorts of things that you save. And it makes care accessible. I’m sure it keeps people out of the hospital.”

Hale says API psychologists work with people with a spectrum of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, bi-polar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Associate Professor Bonnie Kenaley, PhD, of Boise State University in Idaho says a survey of studies on telepsychiatry for the most part show it to be as effective as in-person sessions, and particularly helpful with people who cannot access mental health care due to disability or lack of transportation.

Kenaley recently completed a study on telepsychiatry and 115 older adults with depression, and with heart failure or chronic pulmonary disease. All of them are homebound, she says, but living in their communities, not in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

They Become Empowered for Self-Care

“If we can keep them at home, we can keep them less depressed,” says Kenaley. “ We can make them feel more productive, have them empowered, then more able to take care of themselves. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?”

She says researchers looked at changes in the clients’ mental state over a year. Working as an intervention team, called an I-Team, they taught the seniors stress-relief and problem-solving strategies through videoconferences.

“It actually increases their sense of autonomy, and decreases their depression, and increases their mental functioning,” says Hale. “Now we haven’t seen that it increases their physical functioning but certainly their mental functioning. It decreases their emergency room visits, which certainly decreases the amount of money spent at the emergency room.“

Hale says telepsychiatry opens the way for more people to get the care they need for mental illness.

“I think you’re going to see more and more of it,” he said. “I think Alaska’s a well-connected state.

There’s opportunities for, not just behavioral health, but for all types of practices. And I think in the long run, it’s going to do the state and patients a lot of good. Telemedicine gets larger and larger. It’s a good time to be here.”

State and nonprofit organizations, such as the Alaska e-Health Network and the Alaska Tele-health Advisory Council, are working to set telemedicine standards, to increase efficiency and security, and to plan and fund the expansion of telehealth.

Joaqlin Estus reported this story for Koahnic Broadcast’s KNBA Public Radio (broadcasting Alaskan Native voices) through a MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellowship, a project of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America. Also, click here to list to her radio report.