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Ohio hospital integrates psychiatric telehealth services in ED

By using video technology to do remote consultations, patients don't have to wait get a psychiatric assessment


By Lauren Lindstrom
The Blade

TOLEDO, Ohio — Lighthouse Telehealth, a newly created subsidiary of Harbor Behavioral Health, will partner with Mercy Health to provide psychiatric services through telemedicine to increase the speed and efficiency of placing patients in appropriate care.

A team of psychiatrists licensed to practice in Ohio and advanced-practice nurse support will be available for 24/7 consultation for emergency room patients needing additional behavioral health or substance use disorder services. 

The agreement allows Lighthouse to provide both inpatient physician and advanced-practice nurse support for behavioral health and substance use disorder patients at area Mercy Health facilities.

“We had looked at some innovative ways to change how inpatient hospitalization is used in a continuum of service,” said John Sheehan, Harbor’s chief executive officer.

By using video technology to do remote consultations, patients don’t have to wait get a psychiatric assessment. That means less time in the ER and faster connection to appropriate treatment after they are discharged, Mr. Sheehan said.

“Now you can have an on-call group that is able to go face-to-face with a patient, and arrange transportation to a bed that is appropriate [for their needs],” he said.

Lighthouse professionals will provide psychiatric consultative services within the emergency departments at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, Mercy Health St. Charles Hospital, and Mercy Health St. Anne Hospital, as well as inpatient care within the Behavioral Health Institute on the campus of St. Charles and psychiatric care at Mercy Health’s two freestanding emergency departments in Sylvania and Perrysburg.

They have plans to expand to more of Mercy Health’s hospitals in northwest Ohio, such as those in Tiffin and Willard, next month, Mr. Sheehan said. The program is one way to address a shortage of psychiatrists in northwest Ohio, particularly in its rural areas.

“We look forward to expanding our partnership with Lighthouse Telehealth to ensure that all patients coming to us have access to the appropriate care that they need,” Bob Baxter, president of Mercy Health Toledo, said in a statement. “This innovative technology-based telehealth model will continue to allow effective and timely care for our patients as they seek help for themselves or a loved one.”

Copyright 2018 The Blade

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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