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.