Home > Improving Behavioral Health Care in the Emergency Department and Upstream

Improving Behavioral Health Care in the Emergency Department and Upstream provides actionable guidance for hospital emergency departments and their community partners to create a compassionate, seamless, and effective system of care that is respectful of and works with patients with mental health conditions and substance use disorders who present to the emergency department (ED). It was released in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).

The White Paper also describes current gaps in care, tested improvements to close those gaps, and resources and tools that may provide additional support to ED care teams, patients, and their families.

To develop these solutions, IHI, in partnership with WBT, convened eight US hospitals in an 18-month learning community. By the end of the project, participants had tested strategies for improving patient outcomes and experiences of care, while decreasing avoidable repeat ED visits for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders who present to the ED. Additionally, some participants were able to reduce the ED length of stay, the number of patient-to-staff assaults, and the use of restraints.

“The experiences of these participating organizations demonstrate it is possible to improve the care, experience, and outcomes for these patients,” said Dr. Trissa Torres, chief operations and North America programs officer, IHI. “We have so much to learn when we center our approach around what matters most to the people we are serving. We hope other hospitals and communities are inspired to work together to implement the changes described in this paper and improve care nationwide with their patients, families, and ED care teams.”

The eight participating hospitals were Abbott Northwestern Hospital (Allina Health), Minneapolis, MN; Cohen Children’s Medical Center (Northwell Health), New Hyde Park, NY; Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian (Providence St. Joseph Health), Newport Beach, CA; Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, Sacramento, CA; Maine Medical Center (MaineHealth), Portland, ME; Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, Houston, TX; Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, Everett, WA; and South Seminole Hospital (Orlando Health), Longwood, FL.

“This work is incredibly heartening, timely, and necessary—the nation must do better to support these patients,” said Tyler Norris MDiv, chief executive, WBT. “It is so inspiring to see how the learning community created a culture of caring that will continue to drive change and improvements system-wide—moving from triaging problems to cultivating well-being among patients and staff.”


See more details at the news release and IHI landing page.