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South Carolina Department of Mental Health Improves Patient Adherence to Psychiatric Treatment by Nearly 200%, with Polycom® RealPresence®
Posted on Monday, September 10, 2012
South Carolina Department of Mental Health Improves Patient Adherence to Psychiatric Treatment by Nearly 200%, Reduces Rehospitalizations, and Saves Taxpayers $21.7 Million with Telepsychiatry Program Powered with Polycom® RealPresence® Video Solutions

More than 12,100 telepsychiatry consultations completed to date; state saves more than $1,800 per episode of treatment and reduces hospitalization rates for psychiatric patients
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Sep 10, 2012 : Polycom, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), the global leader in open standards-based unified communications, today announced that the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) has expanded the telepsychiatry consultation program for community hospital emergency departments it first implemented on the Polycom® RealPresence® Platform in 2010 to 21 hospitals throughout the state. The program, which originally connected 15 hospitals, has enabled SCDMH psychiatrists to conduct more than 12,100 rapid consultations with patients in hospital emergency departments, reducing the cost per treatment episode by over $1,800 for a total taxpayer savings of more than $21.7 million.
Rapid Intervention and Community-based Care Improving Outcomes and Reducing Unnecessary Rehospitalizations
“Our telepsychiatry consultation program is focused on accelerating the initial 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 shifting more treatment to outpatient care. Polycom video solutions help us achieve our emphasis on community-based care and our ongoing efforts to reduce rehospitalizations.”
Prior to the launch of the telepsychiatry consultation program, the average mental health emergency-department admittance resulted in a five-to-six day hospital stay. Today, 43 percent of patients are discharged the same day they enter the hospital. Moreover, the early psychiatric intervention has helped increase adherence to post-hospitalization outpatient care programs by nearly 200 percent.
Polycom Immersive Video Enhances Consults 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 led to plans for further expansion, with the number of participating hospitals slated to increase from 21 to 30 in 2012, and the availability of telepsychiatry services scheduled to move from 16 hours per day to 24/7. Eight other states have contacted SCDMH to gather information about rolling out 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.