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At Caregiver, Inc., Telepsychiatry Helps Texans With Dual IDD/Mental Health Diagnoses | NEWS-Line for Mental Health Professionals

At Caregiver, Inc., Telepsychiatry Helps Texans With Dual IDD/Mental Health Diagnoses


In 2017, Randi Morgan, RN BSN and Senior Nurse Consultant at Caregiver, Inc., sought a better way to treat those with dual-diagnoses of intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental disorders. Almost half of 2800 Texans cared for by Caregiver had 9000 off-site psychiatric appointments annually. Scheduling, logistical, and experiential challenges caused stress levels and expenses to grow. Mental health outcomes often declined.

Morgan identified telepsychiatry as a solution.

Today at 15 Texas Caregiver, Inc. sites, HIPAA-compliant telepsychiatry is provided by Austin-based Psychiatric Associates of Central Texas (PACT). Their teams of licensed physician's assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) are led by Frank Floca, MD, PLLC.

To begin, Caregiver CEO Mark Lashley committed to a significant investment in HIPAA-compliant encrypted technology. Morgan developed and launched a year-long migration process. Kathy Griffith, Caregiver's South Regional Director in San Antonio, watched as initially reluctant individuals and families grew to trust Caregiver's new model.

"We asked them to try it," said Griffith. "Most quickly appreciated the benefits."

Among the benefits: Sessions are in Caregiver day habilitation facilities or at nearby Caregiver nurses' offices. Prescription medications are delivered. Outcomes improve.

Better medication management has reduced hospitalizations. Critical incident reporting has decreased. Caregiver Behavioral Supports teams say work is less stressful.

"The transition has been welcomed," said Morgan. "And outcomes are improving."

According to Malcolm Duncan, RN, MSN, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and PACT Business Manager, the therapeutic alliance flourishes even over a screen.

"It's remarkable," he said. "Telepsychiatry meets patients where they are, in a positive, relaxed setting."

Caregiver hopes to expand the program soon to Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.

Source:Caregiver, Inc.
Photo Credit: Pixbay

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