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WPIC Receives Innovation Award

Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
Receives Innovation Award


Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC (WPIC) has been selected to receive the Innovation Award from the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.  This is the third achievement award presented to WPIC by the Association for its innovative programs.  Judges selected WPIC as the winner of the Innovation Award from 100 entries received by the Association for its initiative to increase Patient and Provider Satisfaction in Bringing Psychiatric Services to Individuals in Underserved Areas.  The initiative was led by Jack Cahalane, PhD, MPH, Adult Anxiety and Mood Disorders, Joe Pierri, MD, Child and Adolescents Services, and their colleague, Nancy Parrotta, MA, LPC, NCC of Community Care Behavioral Health.

Psychiatric services are in short supply across the nation and in almost all rural areas of Pennsylvania. Rural Behavioral Health agencies that provide ambulatory care typically have long waiting lists for psychiatric services and frequently ask General Adult Psychiatrists to provide care for their Child and Adolescent patients due to unavailability of trained Child Psychiatrists. The WPIC initiative was implemented beginning in January 2013 and focused on providing telepsychiatry services to rural, underserved populations in Pennsylvania via interactive video link.  There is a substantial body of literature examining the efficacy of telemedicine and specifically telepsychiatry services, with consistently positive findings regarding both consumer acceptance and comparative effectiveness compared with in person, on site care. The Telepsychiatry team examined the process of acclimation to the provision of telepsychiatry services and the differences in treatment adherence using this technology, and included an assessment of the level of satisfaction of the psychiatrist providing the services.  

In this initiative, a psychiatrist completes an initial psychiatric evaluation at the first visit with the patient followed by shorter subsequent visits focusing on symptom remission, functional improvement and pharmacologic management.  Self-report questionnaires were administered to participants at the first and third appointments, addressing three domains: service satisfaction, technology evaluation and general satisfaction with telemedicine.  The project team found that satisfaction was relatively high at the initial visit (44% rated the service as good and 53% rated the service as excellent) and increased by the third visit (21% rated the service as food and 76% rated the service as excellent). The level of satisfaction and comfort level with services delivered remotely via teleconferencing equipment increased quickly and consistently. Psychiatrists also perceived patients as being very satisfied and rated their own experience of delivering the service as positive. Telepsychiatry presents an opportunity for an incremental change, utilizing very specific technology to address unmet consumer needs.   

Congratulations to the faculty and staff at WPIC and Community Care involved in the Telepsychiatry initiative on this well-deserved recognition.