Telemental services are improving emergency care

Across the globe, telemedicine is ushering in increased access to care in emergency situations, especially in the mental health sector. A recent study found that by utilizing telemedicine to connect patients with a telemental health care professional, patients in emergency pediatric situations were able to have increased access to care while creating higher satisfaction rates.

Mental health crises in emergency rooms

Dr. Alison Brent, Medical Director of Children’s Hospital Colorado studied 504 cases of patients aged 18 or younger admitted to one of the ED or urgent care locations with a mental health emergency. Of these individuals, one in five involved in an emergency care situation needed psychiatric services, yet many of these ED or urgent care sites are not equipped with the mental health specialists needed. Receiving instantaneous care is extremely crucial to a patient suffering from a mental health crisis, and Dr. Brent looked to find a solution for this gap in mental healthcare.

Telemedicine improving emergency mental health care outcomes

By introducing an immediate post-discharge plan through telemedicine, Dr. Brent manipulated the lack of specialists on site while finding that:
Patient outcomes were improved
Patients said that they were more or highly satisfied with their level of care
There was increased access to care
In rural communities, the local hospital or urgent care facility might be the only means of contact, leaving children grappling with a mental health emergency without care if the staff at said facilities is not trained in these areas. A telemedicine link to a specialist allows for increased access to necessary care while avoiding transfers to another health system.

Benefits growing from telemedicine adoption

Dr. Brent’s final thoughts echo what many proponents of telemedicine are saying everyday. Her study concluded that telemedicine utilization helps small and rural providers treat patients with mental health issues, while also improving timely access to critically important mental health resources, and improving provider satisfaction rates and system capacities.