DMH Seeks Expanded Telepsychiatry Program

DMH is looking to expanding partnerships with more hospitals to boost the state’s telepsychiatry efforts.

The Ways and Means Healthcare Budget Subcommittee began work on the 2014-2015 state budget by hearing from the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH). The committee is chaired by Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) alongside Rep. Tracy Edge (R-Horry), Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R-Beaufort) and Rep. Bill Clyburn (D-Aiken). State DMH Director John Magill presented the agency’s 2014-2015 budget request.

Director Magill began by presenting a brief overview of the services DMH provides through its 17 community mental health centers, 44 mental health clinics, 4 nursing homes and 4 hospitals throughout the state. He spoke specifically to advances made at the Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital in Anderson and credited the local hospital community for helping expand services to the hospital’s patients, including the use of telepsychiatry.

DMH is looking to build on the success at Harris by expanding partnerships with more hospitals to boost the state’s telepsychiatry efforts. Magill proposed an employee cost sharing program with hospitals that seeks to keep the mentally ill out of the hospital by helping them enroll in the telepsychiatry program. DMH would pay half of the employee’s salary, and the hospital would pay the other half. Committee members were very interested in this idea given the savings and improved efficiency that have already been realized through telepsychiatry.

South Carolina is considered to be one of the leading states in the utilization of telemedicine, and SCHA supports efforts to expand its use even further. Hospitals look forward to working with DMH to increase access and improve the delivery of care for South Carolina’s mentally ill.