Providence TelePsychiatry: Providing virtual care for patients in rural and underserved communities

Did you know that more than 60 percent of individuals in the United States live in a rural community that has been designated as a mental health provider shortage area?  

This lack of access can lead to delayed treatment and worsening mental health conditions.  

Providence’s TelePsychiatry service is bridging this gap by offering inpatient and outpatient services to patients in rural and underserved communities. Providence’s TelePsychiatry program provides on-call, virtual bedside access to board-certified psychiatrists and licensed clinical social workers to diagnose and start patients on the path to treatment.  

In 2023, the program achieved a 10-minute response time for 9,800 consultations. This timely access to mental health care not only ensures that patients receive the support they need promptly but also results in improved patient satisfaction.  

“The impact of TelePsychiatry services cannot be overstated,” said Stacia Fisher, a licensed independent clinical social worker and director of TelePsychiatry at Providence. “By leveraging technology, we are able to reach patients in remote areas who would otherwise have limited access to mental health care.” 

“Psychiatrists and social work staff are able to meet the patient where they are and provide the patient with the same high-quality care as an in-person interaction, easing the patient’s way and allowing for faster treatment planning,” Fisher added. 

Providence’s TelePsychiatry services are currently available at 40 hospitals in five states – Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The program rapidly assesses patients, explores non-involuntary commitment options, and recommends discharge to outpatient care for more than one third of acute care patients from emergency departments. This supports directing patients to more appropriate mental health settings, avoiding unnecessary transfers to tertiary facilities and improves emergency department throughput. 

Through timely consultations and follow-up care, Providence is not only improving patient outcomes but also reducing the burden on emergency departments and tertiary facilities.  

“This innovative approach is transforming the way we deliver mental health care and making a significant difference in the lives of our patients and their communities,” said Arpan Waghray, M.D., CEO, Providence’s Well Being Trust. 

Learn more about TelePsychiatry services at Providence: TelePsychiatry | Virtual Care and Digital Health | Providence.