Data analytics can help HCOs reduce ED crowding by identifying the impact of crowding and boarding associated with mental health patients, and figuring out where and how to apply additional resources such as telepsychiatry.

d2i will help you make the business case for addressing your mental health patient challenges.

Data analytics can help health care organizations (HCOs) figure out how to reduce emergency department (ED) crowding, increase their department’s profitability, and improve patient satisfaction when it comes to mental health services. In particular, using data analytics solutions in the ED can help decision makers identify exactly how telepsychiatry can reduce crowding by identifying the impact of crowding and boarding associated with mental health patients, and where and how to apply additional resources.

ED Mental Health Visits Increasing

Research has shown a consistent increase in the volume of mental health visits to EDs because, overall, mental health illnesses are becoming increasingly common in the United States. For example, it was reported in 2014 that about 18 percent of all U.S. adults over the age of 18 (about 44 million people) were diagnosed with a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder.

Also, a 2016 report on trends in ED visits for mental and substance use disorders between 2006 and 2013 indicated that:

  • One in eight visits to the ED involved mental and substance use disorders.
  • The rate of those visits increased by more than 15 percent between 2007 and 2011.
  • A lot of those visits were considered potentially avoidable had they been “adequately managed through appropriate outpatient care.”
  • Potentially preventable visits were more than twice as likely to result in hospital admission as visits that did not involve mental and substance use disorders.

Improving Mental Health Services in the ED

Telepsychiatry, which falls under a broader umbrella of telemedicine, is a process of providing mental health care services remotely and with the use of technology. Applying telepsychiatry as an additional resource where it’s most needed can help HCOs improve clinical care operations, improve patient outcomes, and help reduce such challenges as limited availability of behavioral health specialists and overall ED overcrowding.

By boosting mental health services, EDs can not only integrate the services of specialists that patients may have a hard time locating on their own, but also provide the services in an acute setting and in real time during psychiatric episodes. Using ED telepsychiatry can also help alleviate stress and anxiety in patients who might find the typical ED environment crowded, chaotic, and anxiety-inducing.

Financial and Other Considerations

Clearly, HCOs are facing the need to increase capacity to handle emergency behavioral health care cases. But, financing ED telepsychiatry programs has been cited among the main obstacles to a seamless integration of those programs into ED processes — especially the initial upfront startup costs and maintenance. But although increasing the number of beds available often isn’t feasible, decreasing the length of overall stay — and, especially, decreasing the number of arrivals and admissions — can help boost ED mental health services.

d2i helps HCOs understand and prove the impact that behavioral health patients have on ED crowding, including lower patient satisfaction and increased patient walkouts. Our Performance Analytic Application helps identify where and when additional resources need to be applied. If you are interested in improving the quality of your ED mental health services along with the quality of your data, contact us for more information, or to schedule a 30-minute demo.