South Carolina Department of Mental Health

At a Glance

  • Reduced wait time for psychological consultations in emergency situations.
  • Reduced cost per treatment.
  • Reduced number of rehospitalizations.

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Polycom Solutions Improve South Carolina Department of Mental Health Services

South Carolina Department of Mental Health Improves Patient Adherence to Psychiatric Treatment by Nearly 200%, Reduces Hospitalizations, and Saves Patients $35 Million with Telepsychiatry Program Powered with Polycom RealPresence Video Solutions

More than 25,000 telepsychiatry consultations completed to date; state currently saves more than $3,000 per episode of treatment and reduces hospitalization rates for psychiatric patients.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) has been working to enrich their patient care programs since 1828 and nearly two centuries later the history of great care has continued with Polycom solutions. The Department serves approximately 100,000 South Carolina citizens with mental illness—approximately 30,000 of whom are children and adolescents—from 17 Mental Health Centers, 61 clinics, and 2 acute care hospitals throughout the state of South Carolina. It has received four regional and national awards for care via an outpatient, community-based system and a commitment to treating all patients with dignity and respect. At the forefront of their award-winning work is an innovative telepsychiatry consultation program enabled by the Polycom RealPresence® Platform. To date, the RealPresence Platform has enabled SCDMH to save patients more than $35 million in healthcare costs.

"Our telepsychiatry consultation program is focused on accelerating the initial assessment and treatment for patients to improve health outcomes and reduce the length of hospitalizations," said Ed Spencer, Director of SCDMH’s Telepsychiatry Consultation Program. "This enhances the treatment experience for patients and their families and it provides significant cost-savings for taxpayers by reducing costs and shifting more treatment to outpatient care. Polycom video solutions help us achieve our emphasis on community-based care and our ongoing efforts to reduce hospitalizations."

The Polycom RealPresence Platform was implemented in 21 emergency departments of hospitals throughout South Carolina. The program has since enabled SCDMH psychiatrists to conduct more than 25,000 rapid consultations with patients in hospital, reducing the cost per treatment episode by over $3,000.

Rapid Intervention and Community-based Care Improves Outcomes and Reduces Unnecessary Hospitalizations

Prior to the launch of the telepsychiatry consultation program, the average mental health emergency department admittance resulted in a four-to-five day hospital stay. Today, 51 percent of patients are recommended for release the same day they received the consultation. Moreover, the early psychiatric intervention has helped increase adherence to post-hospitalization outpatient care programs by nearly 200 percent.

Polycom Immersive Video Enhances Consultations with HD Detail of Patient Symptoms

"The use of Polycom’s HD video is one of the keys to our system’s performance," said Brenda Ratliff, MD, Program Medical Director. "While the verbal interaction between doctor and patient is very important during a psych consult, the non-verbal cues can be even more important. Psychiatrists can learn a tremendous amount by looking for subtle indicators, such as lack of eye contact, abnormal movement, or enlarged pupils. HD video is helping us provide the best possible treatment for our patients."

In addition, the reliability and ease of use of the Polycom solutions are key factors in the program’s success, noted Robert L. Bank, SCDMH Medical Director. "We don’t need to spend much time training our doctors," he said. "The environment is intuitive and our solution is essentially turn-key. It works very well."

The program’s success has spurred telepsychiatry services to consider increasing its operational access from 16 hours-per-day to round-the-clock availability. The Department has also consulted with 26 states and organizations nationally to share information about introducing similar services.

SCDMH has installed Polycom RealPresence Desktop Systems - HDX 4000 in the physicians’ offices and wireless, high-definition Polycom Practitioner Carts in the patients’ rooms at participating hospitals. Natural, crisp conversations can occur even when multiple parties are speaking, and Constant Clarity technology, protects voice and video – even during packet loss scenarios on crowded networks. The carts can be moved nearly anywhere in an emergency department where a patient is waiting. In addition, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health uses the Polycom RealPresence Platform – the most interoperable and comprehensive software infrastructure for universal video collaboration – to power their video delivery.

Polycom Delivers Transformative Solutions for Healthcare

Healthcare organizations the world over are turning to Polycom video collaboration solutions to transform how they learn, teach, and deliver care. Polycom solutions eliminate the distances between patients and caregivers, between physicians and educators, and between medical facilities. Eight of the top 10 hospitals worldwide are Polycom customers, using Polycom technology to reduce patient evaluation times, treat patients remotely, improve medical education, enhance caregiver productivity and quality of life, streamline hospital operations, reduce costs, and ultimately save lives.