Patients facing mental health challenges often have hospital encounters without their behavioral care team even knowing. On the other hand, hospitals treat patients without knowing their mental health history. That doesn’t have to be the case with a care collaboration tool. Real-time notifications at the point of care provide better outcomes for both patients and providers.
Here’s What Care Collaboration in an Ideal Situation Might Look Like
A patient presents to the emergency department (ED) with concerning mental health symptoms including hearing voices, confusion, agitation, and mood instability. This triggers a real-time alert sent via email to an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team following the patient.
The patient’s ACT case manager, who knows the patient well, calls the ED to coordinate their care. The ED physician and ACT team determine that a safe plan for discharge can be arranged. This collaboration avoids a costly admission while allowing a continuous care team experience, and letting the patient return to the familiar setting of his or her own home.
But What Happens After Hours?
What same patient comes to the ED late at night. The ED physician does not feel comfortable discharging the patient and believes the patient will need psychiatric admission for stabilization. It’s after business hours, and the ED care team may not even know of available primary and behavioral health care providers, let alone coordinate or consult with them.
With a care collaboration tool, ED staff can see the patient is followed by an ACT team and that there’s a 24/7 crisis line number reserved for their patients. The staff contact a member of the team, and together they decide that although the patient’s symptoms are indeed concerning, the symptoms are not too far off from their baseline. The ACT team will be able to provide significant patient support in an outpatient setting, so ED staff agree to hold the patient overnight and have the ACT team receive patient at discharge first thing in the morning.
All Members of the Care Team Can Be Involved
Visibility into where patients are traveling through the care continuum allows appropriate response, coordination, and follow-up. When behavioral health patients have an ED visit or a psych admission, they are vulnerable and in need of additional support.
The real-time alert functionality Collective Medical provides empowers behavioral health care teams with timely knowledge about their patients, allowing them to coordinate with hospitals and follow up post-discharge. Similarly, collaboration tools give hospitals visibility on who the care team is, what diagnoses exist, and any treatments or tests the patient has already had. These are the connecting threads that make care collaboration an essential tool for improved patient care.
Ian Bruce, LPC
Clinical Success Manager