Telepsychiatry program debuts at Sutter Health hospitals in the Central Valley

Posted on Aug 3, 2018 in Expanding Access

A workstation on wheels allows Sutter Health caregivers to connect patients in need with an on-call telepsychiatrist.

Increases to 13 the number of Sutter Health hospitals offering service

MODESTO, Calif. — In late July, Sutter Health’s telepsychiatry service launched at the emergency departments and inpatient medical units at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, and Memorial Hospital Los Banos.

The technology augments psychiatry consultation services and continuing efforts to use a standardized approach throughout Sutter Health’s acute care hospitals.

First launched at seven Sutter Health hospitals in October 2017, telepsychiatry services have continued to roll out to other locations this spring and summer, with two hospitals in April, one in May, and now Sutter’s three South Valley hospitals in July.

“System-wide, the service has completed over 1,283 consults since the initial launch in October,” said Tim Jones, Sutter Health’s telepsychiatry program manager for Mental Health Services. “We anticipate that our telepsychiatry service will be available at all Sutter hospital sites by the end of this year.”

Here’s how the service works:

“A dedicated telepsychiatry workstation-on-wheels equipped with an upgraded camera, speakers and microphone, connects patients to the telepsychiatry providers via Skype for Business™,” said Bruce Laverty, MD, MMC’s chief medical executive. “The telepsychiatrists have privileges at our hospitals, and access to our Sutter Health EHR to review health records, order labs, tests or medications, and enter notes.”

  • To access the service, attending and ED providers enter a “consult” order in the Sutter electronic health record, inform the patient of the consult, and notify nursing staff to contact the Telepsychiatry Call Center.
  • Once the call center has the necessary information (patient name, MRN, DOB, unit number, attending/ED provider number, nature of request and primary language), the on-call telepsychiatrist will be available to see the patient within one hour, or as soon as possible if occupied with prior consult requests.
  • Hospital staff bring the telepsychiatry cart to the patient’s bedside to begin the evaluation and, if safety concerns necessitate, will standby during the assessment.
  • Once the patient has been evaluated, the telepsychiatrist will contact the attending or ED provider to discuss assessment, recommendations and/or follow up needs.

Telepsychiatry is made possible through a partnership between Sutter Mental Health Services and Virtual Medical Staff. Virtual Medical Staff connects the hospital team to board-certified psychiatrists who are licensed to practice in California and have undergone credentialing and privileging at our hospitals.

“We look forward to a great partnership with Virtual Medical Staff as we bring these additional services to Modesto and other areas,” said Laverty.

The telepsychiatry service is available 24/7 to help care for any admitted patient in the Emergency Department or inpatient medical units.

Posted by on Aug 3, 2018 in Expanding Access | Comments Off on Telepsychiatry program debuts at Sutter Health hospitals in the Central Valley