Telepsychiatry in the Emergency Department: Overview and Case Studies

By Mike Williams, Michael Pfeffer, Juliana Boyle, Donald Hilty

This is archived content; for historical reference only.

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.