If you’re reading this, then you’re probably already on the fence about whether you need telepsychiatry coverage – and that’s understandable. After all, implementing an entirely new service line can be a significant undertaking, so you want to be sure it’s necessary before taking any next steps. Of course, every hospital location is different in terms of psychiatric or behavioral health needs, which means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all metric that indicates whether it’s time to take the plunge.
So, what are some of the signs you should be looking for when deciding whether you need telepsychiatry coverage?
Here are 5 signs that you need telepsychiatry coverage in your hospital emergency department or clinic.
1. Behavioral health delays are leading to too many avoidable bed days
Avoidable bed days are just that – avoidable. With the costs associated from these bed days, there’s a reason why hospitals want to avoid them. According to a 2017 study by Wolters Kluwer Health, if discharge delays not related to clinical issues could be eliminated, it could save hospitals between $1 million and $7 million annually.
If you’re looking at the number of avoidable bed days at your hospital and realizing that a significant portion of those days are due to behavioral health delays, then it’s a sign that you need telepsychiatry coverage. Psychiatric patients can receive treatment and medication faster, spend significantly less time waiting in an ICU bed, and have an expert who can confirm patients are safe for discharge.
2. You want to reduce spending on locum tenens
Hiring a locum physician is always a viable option to temporarily fill any gaps in psychiatric coverage. After all, it costs the hospital significantly more to have no coverage and leave psychiatric patients waiting in an ICU bed than the cost of hiring a locum. However, overtime, the cost of hiring only locums can quickly add up.
As hospitals and healthcare systems look to reduce costs, the budget for locums might be one area to consider. However, without a locum psychiatrist on staff, you’re still faced with gaps in psychiatric coverage – gaps that telepsychiatry can address. Instead of paying for short-term contracts, you can significantly reduce costs while utilizing a long-term solution by only paying when you need coverage.
3. That onsite psychiatrist job has been posted for months
Are you still waiting for that perfect psychiatrist candidate to apply?
Recruiting qualified candidates for any position can be a challenge, but it’s especially challenging when there’s a national shortage. According to a 2017 New American Economy report, nearly 66% of U.S. counties have no practicing psychiatrists. With many of these counties in rural parts of the country, the ability to find qualified, board-certified psychiatrists is more difficult now than ever before. With 60% of psychiatrists over the age of 55 and fast approaching retirement, recruitment will only become more challenging in the future.
If you’re looking to solve your psychiatrist shortage in a timely manner, then telepsychiatry coverage is the solution for you. Not only does it address an immediate need, but it also is considerably cheaper when you’re only paying when you need it, versus staffing another full-time employee or a locum.
4. Patients are choosing other hospitals or clinics because you lack psychiatry services
Today’s patients have more options than ever when choosing where to receive care, especially when walk-in retail clinics and standalone urgent care operations are located at every corner. If you’re not offering the type of access to certain specialties that patients want or expect from their healthcare provider, then it’s safe to say they’ll find a location that does. By offering access to telepsychiatry, you’re capturing an additional revenue stream that would otherwise be going elsewhere.
5. You’re experiencing all or most of the above signs
At a certain point, the signs you need telepsychiatry coverage begin to be too glaring to ignore. If all or a few of the above signs are happening at your hospital or clinic, then it’s definitely time to begin exploring telepsychiatry options and evaluating the type of coverage you’ll need.
But where’s the best place to start?
Telepsychiatry coverage with a telemedicine partner
Expanding into a telepsychiatry coverage can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be with a telemedicine partner. Depending on the type of coverage you need, VirtualMed Staff custom builds telepsychiatry programs for outpatient, inpatient, and emergency departments. VirtualMed also handles the recruiting side and provides the most qualified telepsychiatrists regardless of geographic location.
To learn more about how VirtualMed Staff can connect hospitals, clinicians, and patients to deliver high-quality healthcare wherever and whenever it’s needed, book a demo today.