The SCDMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program is a cutting-edge statewide service delivery method that provides remote access for emergency departments in South Carolina to psychiatrists when a psychiatric evaluation is required.
SCDMH Emergency Room Telepsychiatry Consultation Program
SCDMH currently contracts with more than 25 hospital emergency rooms around the state. The program provides more than 9,000 psychiatric consults per year to emergency room physicians for patients in emergency rooms who appear to be experiencing behavioral health crises via a secure telehealth connection.
Comprehensive consultations are generally provided to consulting ED physicians within 4 to 6 hours of a request. SCDMH psychiatrists are available 17 hours a day, 364 days a year*. These psychiatrists provide detailed reports, which contain diagnosis, treatment recommendations (including guidance on the use of medication, when indicated), and detailed clinical reports, while the clinical care of the patient, supervision of staff, and prescribing duties remain with the ED physician. If a contracted hospital develops a specialized hospital-based emergency department or observational unit, the on-duty physician would also be able to schedule an SCDMH psychiatric consultation, providing the observational unit is connected to the hospital’s ED and the patients located there remain under the care of the hospital’s ED physicians.
The SCDMH ED Telepsychiatry Program does not offer consultations for patients on medical floors or in outpatient settings.
*SCDMH psychiatrists do not provide emergency room telepsychiatry consults on Christmas Day.
The Department’s rates for subscribing hospitals are based on funding sources available to SCDMH. However, if the volume of requested consultations substantially increases as additional hospitals contract with SCDMH, or if currently contracted hospitals significantly increase demand for consults, the Department’s rates may require adjustment to sustain its capacity to provide timely psychiatric consultations. SCDMH’s 2023 rates are $22,275 annually for unlimited consultations and $5,569 annually for a 150-consultation package.
Contact SCDMH Acting State Director Robert Bank, MD, for more information: Robert.Bank@scdmh.org.
SCDMH Assistance with Psychiatric Staffing Strategies
Community hospitals considering establishing new psychiatric crisis programs will often need to recruit psychiatric medical staffing for their programs. SCDMH has broad experience in utilizing telemedicine models to provide psychiatric medical care. As such, the Department offers consultation with interested hospitals to discuss approaches to address their psychiatric staffing needs and an introduction to the sources the Department uses to meet its psychiatric medical staffing needs, including psychiatric APRNs. A cost-efficient approach in many locations would be a remote attending psychiatrist working with an onsite experienced psychiatric APRN.
Contact SCDMH Acting State Director Robert Bank, MD, for more information: Robert.Bank@SCDMH.org
SCDMH Assistance with Emergency Room Onsite Therapist Staffing
SCDMH mental health centers offer hospital emergency rooms the opportunity to contract with one of the centers’ master’s-trained therapists – referred to as mental health professionals (MHPs) – to work onsite in emergency rooms. Participating hospitals have reported that having an SCDMH MHP in their EDs yields beneficial results in assisting with the timely disposition of patients with behavioral health disorders. These clinicians are well-versed in the state’s behavioral health resources, capabilities, and limitations. In addition, their knowledge of resources, coupled with the ability to access SCDMH’s statewide electronic health record, provides emergency room staff with detailed clinical information for specific patients and comprehensive knowledge of potential discharge referral sources. These MHPs can facilitate “warm handoffs” to SCDMH’s mental health centers, which serve all 46 counties of South Carolina.
Contact SCDMH Deputy Director Debbie Blalock for more information: Deborah.Blalock@scdmh.org.