On Monday, June 3, Indiana University Health will begin providing virtual behavioral health support services to IU Health Arnett Hospital.
The new service provides around-the-clock access to advanced practice nursing and psychiatry for emergency room patients in need of a psychiatric evaluation. Through the use of live video, the virtual service enables IU Health’s hospitals to access behavioral health expertise 24/7.
“Our Behavioral Health Hub serving rural hospitals will give more Hoosiers access to behavioral health care and will alleviate some of the strain put on emergency departments,” says Anne Gilbert, psychiatrist and medical director of Behavioral Health Virtual Services. “For many who don’t have access to a primary care physician or don’t know where to go—the emergency room becomes their entry point for treatment.”
Use of virtual services through the Behavioral Health Hub will allow patients in need to stay where they are and significantly cut the wait time for an assessment. Traditionally, patients at smaller or rural hospitals in need of a psychiatric assessment are transferred by ambulance to a bigger hospital — causing long wait times for treatment, additional costs and transportation issues once they are released.
“Addressing the growing need for behavioral health issues in our community is a priority,” added Dan Neufelder, president of IU Health Arnett Hospital. “Having around the clock access to experts when help is needed most during critical moments is an important key.”
Patients will be assessed when they come into an IU Health Arnett emergency department as someone in need of a psych evaluation. ED personnel will connect patients with the advanced practice nurses or psychiatrists who interact live via video.
The Behavioral Health Hub, based in Indianapolis, also offers 24/7 access to social workers and therapists so even when patients are not admitted to a hospital, they can have access to a safety plan, acute treatment and a follow-up to assist with behavioral health services in their area.
“Our clinicians in the emergency department have identified behavioral health as a critical need and are excited about this innovative approach to psychiatric care. We are confident that it will help us better serve our patients during a time of crisis.” says Cherri Hobgood, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at IU School of Medicine.
The behavioral health initiative is part of IU Health’s strategic plan to improve the health of Hoosiers by focusing on mental health. The virtual health hub for IU Health statewide hospitals also provides addiction recovery coaching for patients with opioid and other addictions.