Behavioral Health in the ED

Partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs, also known as PHP and IOP, provide options for patients who need more support than outpatient care but don’t require the oversight of hospitalization. These programs allow for longer treatment duration, often lasting for weeks as opposed to an in-patient stay that might only last a couple of days to one week. They can also be a useful resource to help mental health and addiction patients transition from in-patient care back into their normal routine.

PHPs and IOPs provide a structured program for patients needing psychiatric services, with fewer burdens and less cost. PHPs and IOPs offer patients the flexibility to fit treatment into their lives, with scheduling options to allow for working life and childcare.

These alternative programs provide diagnostic evaluation, structured treatments, case management, and medication management. With over 400 programs offered in the United States alone, PHPs and IOPs form an essential part of healthcare offerings.

PHPs tend to treat patients who might otherwise have been hospitalized and also help to decrease the length of hospitalization by providing a safe, intense and highly structured outpatient program. They typically are structured to meet five days a week, usually for around six hours a day. IOPs, on the other hand, might meet 3-4 days a week, for 3-4 hours of treatment. The programs predominately focus on group and individual therapies, including psychiatric evaluations, group counseling, vocational training, and employment services.

Enhancing PHP and IOP with Telepsychiatry

A psychiatrist’s role in these programs focuses on comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, treatment planning, and medication management. MindCare’s team of trained providers is already helping hospitals and clinics around the country to enhance their behavioral health services through telepsychiatry, and the same knowledge and collaboration can be applied to PHPs and IOPs.

As outpatient programs, both PHPs and IOPs are set up to help patients succeed in a real-life setting while accommodating work and childcare. Telepsychiatry allows these programs to seamlessly fit into patients’ everyday life, bringing care directly to them.

MindCare’s team is on call 24/7 to address medication issues, provide therapeutic counseling, and coordinate treatment planning. Virtual care visits provide the same benefits for patients as an in-person psychiatrist, and studies have shown that 98% of patients are interested in future telemedicine visits, and 99% would recommend this method of patient care. Across medical specialties, patients are rating telemedicine visits equal to, or better than traditional in-person visits. Telemedicine received high marks for convenience and quality, furthermore many patients stated that they still felt a strong personal connection to their provider with virtual visits.

Keeping Patients and Providers Safe

In addition to helping patients integrate the programs into their lives, telepsychiatry also adds another layer of protection for patients. A study on why PHPs fail found that suicidal ideations were the highest risk factor for hospitalization for patients enrolled in a PHP. Patients who presented with suicidal ideations were two to three times more likely to be hospitalized or readmitted. Telepsychiatrists are highly trained to help mental health patients, and studies have found that telehealth is an effective suicide-prevention method. By providing care early on and giving patients and staff access to trained psychologists, telepsychiatry can help save lives.

Additionally, virtual visits can help limit the spread of infections, such as COVID-19, reducing the need to travel to offsite locations and keeping both providers and patients safe.

Increasing Patients’ Access to Mental Health Care

There are over 6,000 areas in the United States that do not have adequate access to healthcare, and 51% of US counties do not have any psychiatrists. By adding telepsychiatry, PHPs and IOPs can reach more patients around the country, without adding an additional travel burden.

MindCare’s team is ready to partner with and complement the skills of your in-house care team. Our collaborative care model allows our team to seamlessly fit with your operation to virtually discuss patient progress, assist with medication regimes, and offer treatment recommendations.