Vituity’s Award-Winning Program for Emergency Psychiatric Care

Published July 26, 2021

Vituity’s Award-Winning Program for Emergency Psychiatric Care

On April 8th, 2021, Vituity’s Emergency Psychiatry Team received the Innovation in Acute Care Suicide Prevention Award by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) for their work on Emergency Psychiatric Intervention (EPI), a proprietary care tool.

“When we began our bold goal to reduce the national suicide rate 20% by 2025, we envisioned creative new solutions like this new tool developed by the team at Vituity. This team has found a way to better meet the behavioral health needs of patients,” said CEO Robert Gebbia of AFSP. “And, what makes the tool special is how simple it is to implement, and the potential time and cost savings for care and treatment.”

Read full story

Vituity, a physician-led and -owned organization, has been working on the front lines of acute care delivery for nearly 50 years and understands the unique challenges of the emergency department (ED).

Empowering EDs to Serve All Emergencies

Emergency Psychiatric Intervention (EPI) is an approach and toolkit designed by Vituity physicians on the front lines of emergency medicine and acute psychiatry. EPI ensures that EDs are empowered to properly and more efficiently evaluate and treat behavioral health patients from the moment they enter the ED through discharge.

quote yellow icon
By leveraging new care delivery models and integrating them across different specialties and departments, we are helping our health system partners make meaningful strides toward mental health parity and improving the lives of our most vulnerable patients.
Scott Zeller, MD
Scott Zeller, MDVice President of Psychiatry

How Emergency Psychiatric Intervention Works

At its core, the EPI approach includes expertise and proven results in three areas:

  • Elimination of over-processing
  • Risk stratification and split flow processing
  • Early and appropriate medication management

These three principles are already embedded in the standard processes that serve patients with medical complaints in the ED. However, they have not been successfully applied to the behavioral health population. Through the elimination of unnecessary roadblocks to expedite treatment, patients receive earlier assessments and differentiated care based on diagnosed need. Also, EPI creates core efficiencies to assess, evaluate, and treat behavioral health patients, reducing redundancies and freeing up time to care for more patients. All of 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.

Emergency Psychiatric Intervention at CommonSpirit Health

CommonSpirit Health is the largest Catholic health system and second-largest nonprofit hospital system in the U.S., operating 137 hospitals in 21 states. Like health systems across the country, CommonSpirit was experiencing a rapid increase in the number of behavioral health patients presenting to its ED. Perhaps its greatest challenge was lack of clinician training around mental health and substance abuse emergencies.

Senior Vice President for Behavioral Health Paul Rains, MSN, collaborated with Vituity to identify nine exemplar CommonSpirit EDs in Nevada and California that could not only succeed with EPI but also help to scale it across the organization. This resulted in numerous improvements across the nine participating hospitals within six months:

  • Door-to-medication times decreased from 158 to 44.5 minutes, and the percentage of patients receiving medications within an hour nearly doubled.
  • Use of first-generation antipsychotics decreased by 79% in favor of newer, less disorienting medications.
  • Length of stay for behavioral health patients dropped by 21 minutes while volumes for this population remained constant.
  • 34% of ED team members reported increased confidence in taking care of behavioral health patients and 82% reported a decrease in restraint use.

Transforming the ED for All Stakeholders

The impact of effectively and compassionately serving all ED patients, including those with behavioral health conditions, is profound.

  • Hospitals and health systems improve clinical quality, profitability, and patient scores while elevating their brand
  • EDs achieve higher throughput and better care for all, with fewer behavioral patient admissions and more stable, engaged staff
  • Providers gain new confidence in their ability to heal, rekindling the joy of practicing medicine
  • All patients know on a very human level that they're properly cared for with dignity and respect

To learn more about how to incorporate EPI at your practice location or health system, contact


Originally published April 8, 2021

Partnering to improve patient lives

Vituity branding orange wave pattern background