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UHS Delaware Valley Hospital advances mental health access in primary care

Patients frequently receive treatment for mental and behavioral disorders in the primary care setting. However, providers are often untrained and overburdened to deliver this type of specialty care during these visits. Hoping to improve mental health access and outcomes for their patients during primary care visits, UHS Delaware Valley Hospital began an initiative to integrate tele-mental health.

The program integrates mental health services into primary care using an outside vendor and a secure videoconferencing platform. Through this model, Delaware Valley Hospital is able to connect area residents with vital mental health services without the healthcare professional having to move to a remote, rural location. This initiative is focused on the New York State Prevention Agenda focus area of strengthening the mental health infrastructure.

During implementation, Delaware Valley Hospital found that collaboration was key to success. Identifying and communicating with experts within the telehealth field and regulatory agencies was imperative. Their expertise was vital to ensuring pitfalls were avoided and the program creation process went smoothly.

Between January and December 2019, 119 patients had 698 visits, with one licensed clinical social worker and one non-physician provider working about 24 hours per week. In December, the hospital added an LCSW at 10 hours per week. Most patients have expressed positive feelings about the program. Of the patients surveyed, 59% rated the program a five (the highest rating) and no one scored it below three.

For more information, contact Dotti Kruppo, director, community relations, at (607) 865-2409 or dotti.kruppo@nyuhs.org.