Press Release

IU Health extends behavioral health support statewide

April 15, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS (April 12, 2019) -- Indiana University Health is responding to the growing need for emergency and acute psychiatric care by extending virtual behavioral health support services to its hospitals and other care settings around the state.

The new service provides around-the-clock access to psychiatric care 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 hospitals will give more Hoosiers timely access to behavioral health care and will alleviate some of the strain put on emergency departments,” said Anne Gilbert, MD, 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.”

Improving care thorough virtual services

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.

Patients will be assessed when they come into an IU Health emergency department as someone in need of a psychiatric evaluation. Emergency Department providers will be able to connect those patients with a psychiatric care team that interacts 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.” said 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. 

The rollout of behavioral health services includes:

March: Arnett and Frankfort hospitals.
April: Jay, Blackford, Paoli, Tipton and Bedford hospitals.
May: Saxony, Bloomington and White Memorial hospitals and Morgan ED.
June: North and West hospitals.

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