From 2006 to 2021, the percentage of emergency department patients with mental health and substance use concerns more than doubled to 12% of all patients. Unfortunately, most emergency departments s are ill-equipped to treat behavioral health complaints, and these patients often endure long wait times and delays in therapeutic care. These delays for individual patients also create department-wide backups that lead to delays for all patients in the emergency department.
In 2015, Vituity physicians recognized the growing number of patients seeking behavioral healthcare in the emergency department. We brought together a multidisciplinary team of emergency physicians and psychiatrists who developed the Emergency Psychiatric Intervention (EPI) toolkit. EPI ensures that emergency physicians are empowered to more efficiently evaluate and treat behavioral health patients from the moment they enter the emergency department through discharge.
At its core, the EPI approach includes expertise and proven results in three areas:
By eliminating unnecessary roadblocks to expedite treatment, patients receive earlier assessments and differentiated care based on the diagnosed need. This is achieved through a comprehensive education program and toolkit on behavioral healthcare best practices that minimize patient holding and improve care quality and patient experience.
EPI was first piloted at four AMITA hospital locations in and around Chicago. Before implementation, all sites experienced high volumes of behavioral health patients in their emergency departments and were looking for a risk stratification method and new medication protocols that lead to more efficient and accurate diagnoses and treatment and faster discharge rates.
The participating locations achieved remarkable results within six months after implementing EPI. Across all four hospitals, teams dramatically improved the quality of care and achieved faster throughput times, leading to measurable financial ROI for the health system.
Thanks to the positive response by all stakeholders across health systems throughout the country, Vituity was recognized in 2021 by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).
This team has found a way to better meet the behavioral health needs of patients. And, what makes the tool special is how simple it is to implement, and the potential time and cost savings for care and treatment.
CEO, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention