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.

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Jan 192014



JSA Health Telepsychiatry is pleased to announce a partnership with Seton Medical Center Harker Heights.  Under the agreement, JSA Health will be providing it’s award winning on-demand psychiatric emergency consultations to Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, a Seton Healthcare Family hospital near Killeen, Texas.

The Seton Healthcare Family was recognized as the top-ranked health system in Texas by Modern Healthcare magazine and healthcare data consulting firm Verispan and among the year’s top 100 integrated healthcare systems in the nation for efficiency and performance.

A not-for-profit organization, the Seton Family is the leading provider of healthcare services in Central Texas, serving an 11-county population of 1.9 million. As the region’s largest community service organization, Seton contributed more than $419 million to care for the poor and community benefit last year.

Seton Healthcare Family is part of Ascension Health. Ascension Health was created on November 1, 1999 with the union of the Daughters of Charity National Health System based in St. Louis, Missouri and the Sisters of St. Joseph Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today, Ascension Health is the governing body for all current Daughters of Charity National Health System and Sisters of St. Joseph Health System operations and facilities.

Ascension Health is the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States, with a network of over 75 acute care, long-term care, and other healthcare facilities in 20 states and the District of Columbia. It employs more than 100,000 people and is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.


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.

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Jan 182014


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

Under the agreement, JSA Health will be 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 will be providing child, adolescent, adult and geriatric consultations.

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 www.100tophospitals.com.


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.

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Dec 102013




Dr. Scott Zeller Earns Distinguished Service Award From California Hospital Association

Chief of Psychiatric Emergency Services Receives Honor for Vision, Leadership in Mental Health Care; Recognized as Architect of Groundbreaking “Alameda Model”

SAN LEANDRO, Calif., Dec. 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – John George Psychiatric Hospital (JGPH)announced that Scott Zeller, MD, Chief of Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES), was awarded the Šimanek Distinguished Service Award by the California Hospital Association (CHA) during the 2013 Behavioral Health Care Symposium in Huntington Beach, CA. Each year, CHA’s Center for BehavioralHealth honors a health care leader who promotes excellence in behavioral health care through outstanding contributions to hospitals and health care services, as demonstrated by a successful project or program. Dr. Zeller was recognized for his work in developing, promoting and leading efforts! to understand the effectiveness of a Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) framework known as the “Alameda Model.” “Dr. Zeller’s tireless effort to help others understand that PES increases access to mental health services, improves the quality of care, and reduces the cost of providing care, has drawn interest from across California and throughout the U.S. because of its alignment with national health care reform goals.
The Alameda Model of patient care resolves a well-known national dilemma by reducing delays for psychiatric care and preventing ER boarding of psychiatric patients,” Guy Qvistgaard, John George Psychiatric Hospital Administrator, said. “Over the last year, we’ve hosted clinicians from Cornell University, Orange, Ventura and Sacramento Counties, and had inquiries from cities such as Toronto and Chicago. Officials are eager to learn how our framework may be applied in their city, county, or district. We thank Dr. Zeller for his hard work on behalf of patients at JGPH and Alameda Health System, and congratulate him on this great achievement.” The Šimanek Distinguished Service Award is named after Joe Šimanek, who served as attorney in the Office of the General Counsel for the Regents of the University of California. He did extensive work on state public policy related to medical and mental health c! onfidentiality laws and the treatment of mental health patients.
Previous award winners include Diane Stewart, Chief Administrative Officer of Sutter Center for Psychiatry; Dr. Robert E. Hales, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at U.C. Davis Medical Center; May Farr, co-founder of Inland Valley’s first NAMI chapter; Assemblymember Helen MacLeod Thomson; and attorney M. Steven Lipton. More information about the Alameda Model of patient care, including a link to Dr. Zeller’s study, “Effects of a Dedicated Regional Psychiatric Emergency Service on Boarding of Psychiatric Patients in the Emergency Department,” may be found at www.alamedahealthsystem.org, or by clicking here! .
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Dec 092013




JSA Health Telepsychiatry is pleased to announce the immediate availability of round the clock access to emergency telepsychiatry consultation for children and adolescents.

For many years, telepsychiatry groups have attempted to maintain the capacity for 24/7,  child and adolescent emergency telepsychiatry consultations. The task has proven very difficult due to the limited availability of child psychiatrists…not to mention the availability of child psychiatrists who wanted to consult after hours and weekends.

JSA Health Telepsychiatry now has access to twelve, child and adolescent emergency psychiatrists around the clock, including the difficult to staff hours after midnight and on weekends. Consults will be provided primarily by child and adolescent psychiatrists via telemedicine, and on some occasions by emergency telepsychiatrists working with a consulting child and adolescent psychiatrist via phone.

Starting today, JSA Health Telepsychiatry has no exclusion criteria for age. Emergency telepsychiatry consultations are now available around the clock…for ages 3 to 100. The doctor is always in.


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Nov 102013


JSA Health Telepsychiatry  is pleased to announce the development of a second MHEC (Mental Health Emergency Center) for Texas .. this one in Waco, Texas … for the Heart of Texas Regional MHMR Center.

The MHEC model has won two prestigious awards for innovation…the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Award for Innovation and the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare’s Impact Award for Excellence in Service Innovation.

JSA Health Telepsychiatry will once again be providing round the clock services for the Heart of Texas MHEC – called the the Crisis Treatment Center (CTC). The CTC will consist of a triage unit, a 12 bed voluntary crisis residential unit, a 4 bed extended observation unit, and an intensive outpatient program. JSA Health Telepsychiatrists will be making rounds three times a day, and doing all admissions in real time on an on-demand basis. JSA expects that the CTC will provide a significant ability to decompress the region’s  emergency departments as JSA is also providing telepsychiatry services on an on-demand capacity to the 12 emergency departments surrounding Waco.

The MHEC model is thriving with additional MHEC units being planned and built for:

  1. Community HealthCore: Three MHEC units to be built in Longview and Texarkana, Texas
  2. Emergence Health Network: One MHEC currently under construction in El Paso, Texas
  3. Austin Texas Regional Partnership: One MHEC unit as part of the Central Health System

JSA Health Telepsychiatry is proud to have co-developed the MHEC model the Burke Center of Lufkin, Texas. Plans for a MHEC Foundation are in the works to study the MHEC model and promulgate standards.

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