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Telepsychiatry in the Emergency Department: Overview and Case Studies

The Abaris Group

Telepsychiatry is used in some emergency departments to make evaluating and treating patients with mental health issues more efficient. This paper examines seven ED telepsychiatry programs in terms of structure, financing, and challenges.

Patients who present in the emergency department (ED) with mental health issues often encounter long delays before being evaluated and admitted, transferred, or discharged. Arranging appropriate evaluation for these patients often disproportionately affects the operation of the ED, particularly in its space and staffing.

Some hospitals are using telemedicine to help evaluate ED patients. This report examines the operational structure, financial support, and challenges encountered with seven ED telepsychiatry programs. It also looks at the potential value that telepsychiatry could bring to the efficient operation of the ED and improved patient care.

The issues discussed include:

  • Technology and infrastructure
  • Financial support
  • Federal and California regulatory issues
  • Licensing requirements
  • Accreditation standards
  • Reimbursement related to Medicare, Medicaid, and private payers

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.