In December 2007, in a collaboration of historic significance, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health partnered with The Duke Endowment to create an innovative solution to the overcrowding of psychiatric patients in local hospital emergency departments. The solution was called “Partners in Behavioral Health Emergency Services.” Informally, it is referred to as the DMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program.
The DMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program is a cutting-edge statewide service delivery method that provides remote access for emergency departments in South Carolina to psychiatrists whenever a psychiatric evaluation is required.
The Program is a critical component to meeting the increased demand on emergency departments to diagnose and treat patients with mental illness and patients with co-occurring disorders. The DMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program impacts the demand for services at the service-delivery point and augments the limited resources available in emergency departments. The University of South Carolina, School of Medicine is conducting on-going program evaluation. To date, evaluation results are very positive. The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the South Carolina Hospital Association provided early support of the program. Nationally, this program is the first of its kind.