SOURCE: Polycom, Inc.

Polycom, Inc.

May 17, 2010 08:30 ET

South Carolina Department of Mental Health Sees Improved Patient Outcomes and Saves Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Using Polycom Telepresence

Polycom Telemedicine Solution Expands the Reach of Psychiatric Care Into Rural Hospitals

COLUMBIA, SC and PLEASANTON, CA--(Marketwire - May 17, 2010) -  The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH) is delivering timely, high-quality mental healthcare to remote emergency departments (EDs) statewide using a video communications network powered by Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM). The DMH's video network allows patients to have immediate access to the state's psychiatric network, and at the same time, significantly reduces costs for hospitals.

The DMH telepsychiatry solution has improved access to emergency psychiatric assessment for patients in hard-to-reach, rural areas. It also facilitates a more rapid and sustained recovery for the patients assessed. The DMH initially anticipated that it would provide 2,000-plus consults each year when it had deployed video conferencing systems in 45 to 55 of its targeted EDs. However, with only 16 systems deployed, it has far exceeded that number, providing more than 2,000 consults to date.

The telepsychiatry network is also providing significant travel and related cost savings for the state of South Carolina. The rate of in-patient emergency department admissions is also decreasing. A typical mental health emergency department admittance results in a five-to-six day hospital stay at a cost of $2,000 per day, or $10,000 to $12,000 over the length of the stay. Participating hospitals report a drop in length of stay from an average of six days to just over three days, cutting the total cost nearly in half. Participating hospitals also report consistently positive results, including:

  • A 55-percent drop in the average length of stay for patients in a behavioral crisis
  • Savings in excess of $100,000 in the first six months of telepsychiatry participation
  • The direct discharge of 40 percent more ED mental health patients following telepsychiatry consultations.

"Like many states, South Carolina faces an 'urban-rural dilemma,' with much of the population of South Carolina living in rural areas, while the mental health expertise is concentrated in the urban centers," said Ed Spencer, director of the DMH Telepsychiatry Program. "Add to that a high percentage of citizens with limited resources, many lacking of health insurance and reliable transportation to an urban hospital, and it can be difficult for the DMH to reach the patients most in need of care."

In the mental health treatment setting, non-verbal communication is often as or more important than what the patient says, making HD-quality video key to the DMH network.

"Polycom HD video allows the DMH practitioners to see the smallest details, which are critical when treating someone with, for example, a substance abuse problem," said Brenda Ratliff, MD, program medical director. "The physician can zoom in and clearly examine the patient's pupils to determine whether the person may be under the influence of drugs or has had a true psychotic episode."

The agency has deployed 16 high definition Polycom® Practitioner Cart™ HDX™ systems, which are mobile and can be moved to the area in the ED where the patient is waiting, instead of moving the patient. The Polycom Converged Management Application™ (CMA) centrally manages and deploys the agency's visual communication solution. The CMA Desktop video collaboration software client is used by the psychiatrists employed in the program to connect from a variety of remote locations.

For multipoint calls, DMH has deployed the Polycom RMX® 2000 real-time media conference platform, enabling all of the video-equipped hospitals to connect for training. The Polycom RSS™ 2000, an on-demand recording, streaming, and archiving solution, was implemented for instruction and training.

The DMH Telepsychiatry Consultation Program, the result of DMH leadership securing a grant for the program from The Duke Endowment, was created to address the state's mental health care delivery challenges. The grant award allowed the DMH to use telemedicine in a unique way: by offering all South Carolina hospital EDs, many of which are located in remote regions of the state, timely access to a DMH consulting psychiatrist. The project is currently in 16 hospital EDs in South Carolina and will eventually equip all 65 EDs in the state.

A critical added benefit, the video network connects the state's hospitals in an unprecedented way, allowing for the coordination and sharing of access to specialty medical care consultation among participating hospitals.

About South Carolina Department of Mental Health
The South Carolina Department of Mental Health serves approximately 100,000 citizens with mental illnesses, including 33,000 children and adolescents. The Department provides outpatient services through a network of seventeen community mental health centers and numerous clinics. It also operates four psychiatric hospitals, one community nursing care center, and three veterans' nursing homes.

About Polycom
Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) is the global leader in telepresence, video, and voice solutions and a visionary in communications that empower people to connect and collaborate everywhere. Visit for more information and follow us on Twitter @AllAboutPolycom.

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