Update On Statewide Telepsychiatry Program

Apr 11, 2014

Credit Photo by Richard Muldez - Provided by Albemarle Health

Twenty eight counties across the state do not have a psychiatrist, leaving many to seek treatment in local hospital emergency rooms.  But the Statewide Telepsychiatry program, which started in January, is designed to address a shortage of psychologists, especially in rural areas.  The program is helping patients get the help they need using video and audio streaming videoconferencing technology similar to Skype or Facetime.     East Carolina University’s E-Behavioral Health Telepsychiatry Center is providing the consultations and so far, the program is showing positive results.  A recent study from the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research found that patients who received telepsychatry consultations are spending less time waiting in emergency rooms and have a lower likelihood of returning for treatment.  This week, I spoke with Deputy Secretary for Health Services and acting State Health Director Dr. Robin Cummings about the telepsychatry program rollout, and how the technology works.