Telepsychiatry offers valuable service to Driscoll Health Plan patients

Telepsychiatry sessions are conducted at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic, located at 3643 S. Staples St., Suite B. During the session, a Driscoll Health Plan patient sits in front of the monitor and interacts through video conferencing with Elizabeth Lobel, MD (pictured), a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Driscoll Health System’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic now provides a service that takes advantage of modern technology to help patients.

Telepsychiatry, the new service offered, is a subset of telemedicine that currently is available to Driscoll Health Plan members.

Elizabeth Lobel, MD, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, is doing psychiatric consultations, follow-up visits, patient/parent education and medication management.

This all is being done live, using video conferencing and through interactive communication from the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic, located at 3643 S. Staples St., Suite B.

Dr. Lobel is one of  two providers who will be offering Driscoll Health Plan members telepsychiatry services, through a partnership and contractual relationship with University Texas Medical Branch Galveston.

The patient and parent are notified ahead of time of the type of visit they will have with Dr. Lobel. The patient is prepared and triaged just as for an in-person appointment. The nurse or medical assistant takes vital signs, medication intake and all relevant information needed before the telepsychiatry session begins.

Through the telepsychiatry interaction, Dr. Lobel is able to evaluate the patient and make her recommendations. Dr. Lobel e-scribes any medications other than triplicates (because they cannot be e-scribed). The patient goes back to the primary care physician for triplicate medications as per Dr. Lobel’s recommendations. The primary care physician receives the clinical note after the patient is seen at the Psychiatry Clinic, usually within 24 hours.

“We know we have a shortage of board-certified child psychiatrists in our area and this is a way to bridge the gap,” said Mary Dale Peterson, MD, President and CEO of Driscoll Health Plan. “Our members’ families are grateful to have this service close to them.”

Currently, the plan is only available to Driscoll Health Plan members. Driscoll medical staff say the process has been a productive one.

“We have had a good response from the patients and parents. It’s been compared to ‘face-timing’ by one of our patients,” said Jane Rivera, RN, BC, Clinical Director, Pediatric Psychiatry.

“This is the first of additional future telemedicine projects we’re embarking on in an ambulatory model. The next telemedicine project will take us to Laredo,” said Laura Zamora, Physician Practice Administrator, Driscoll Children’s Hospital.