New Telemedicine Program at South Florida Baptist Hospital Provides Needed Behavioral Health Services to Patients

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South Florida Baptist Hospital has turned to telemedicine to provide patients, including those committed under the Baker Act, access to timely physician psychiatric care. The program dubbed “telepsychiatry,” launched in February 2012. InSight Telepsychiatry, LLC, a national leader in telepsychiatry, provides the service to the hospital whereby psychiatrists evaluate and treat patients via secure, televideo equipment.

InSight Telepsychiatry and Baycare
“Being able to offer patients a psychiatrist’s evaluation in about an hour’s time with telepsychiatry means patients suffering from mental illness are able to be evaluated and appropriately treated more efficiently."
-Dr. Eli Zahn, ED Medical Director

In an effort to ensure that behavioral patients at South Florida Baptist Hospital were getting needed professional psychiatric care, the facility has implemented a new “telepsychiatry” program that allows behavioral health patients to receive timely mental health evaluations by psychiatrists.

Given a national shortage of psychiatrists and the 24/7 nature of psychiatric crises within hospital emergency rooms and other departments, it’s increasingly difficult to provide patients with needed care. Telepsychiatry is a solution that’s becoming more prevalent across the country.

“On occasion, patients are taken to the hospital under the Baker Act for a behavioral issue when they’re actually under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These patients used to wait days for a psychiatrist’s evaluation. Now, we’re able to have a psychiatrist evaluate the patient and make a decision within hours,” said Eddie Carie, Behavioral Health Case Manager at South Florida Baptist.

“Being able to offer patients in the emergency room a psychiatrist’s evaluation in about an hour’s time with telepsychiatry means that patients suffering from mental illness are able to be evaluated and appropriately treated more efficiently,” said Dr. Elise Zahn, Emergency Department Medical Director.

According to Steve Nierman, Chief Operating Officer, “Telepsychiatry has been adopted by many community hospitals in recent years, especially as people become more comfortable with technology. The patients who have used the service at South Florida Baptist Hospital have been receptive to the idea of a doctor on the TV. Based on our success, several other hospitals within the BayCare Health System are now looking at this.”

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Elizabeth Ryan
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