It’s no secret that overcrowded and understaffed emergency rooms (ER’s) are more often than not the norm these days across the country. ER’s are often staffed with generalists who work as quickly as possible to triage their patients and get them on there way, but the problem with long wait times in the ER is often exacerbated when patients arrive with symptoms they may not be prepared to treat – such as signs of mental illness. As the nation continues to experience a shortage of psychiatric beds and mental health professionals, these patients are often held for long periods of time waiting for the care they need.
The good news is that some states have caught on to the benefits of utilizing innovative technologies to remedy this situation and are turning to telepsychiatry as a way to expedite care for mentally ill patients. The need to connect patients with mental health services faster and more efficiently was recognized by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, and they have created a statewide network to address the growing crisis. Utilizing video conferencing and other collaborative technology, the state began enabling psychiatrists to evaluate patients in emergency departments via telepsychiatry, or telemental health care. You can read the full story here.