NORFOLK, Va., July 9 /PRNewswire/ -- ValueOptions®, the nation's largest independent behavioral health care company, is leveraging Verizon Telehealth Collaboration Services to securely offer cost-effective tele-psychiatry to residents of Immokalee, Fla., a remote community tucked in the headwaters of the Everglades.
Immokalee, in Collier County on the west coast of Florida, is a rural agricultural community 30 miles east of Naples. Nearly half the residents of this largely migrant population live below the poverty line and many struggle daily accessing adequate healthcare due to language barriers, transportation issues and childcare. Providing the same timely access to psychiatric services as the individuals living in the more urban Naples area has been a challenge.
But that's no longer the case. ValueOptions chose the David Lawrence Center, the Collier County community-based mental health center with offices in Naples and Immokalee, to provide real-time consultations between clinical specialists and those in need of services. The remote consultations are enabled by high-definition video conferencing units deployed by Verizon Business.
"The consumer won't have to travel far from home to keep an appointment," said Pat Glynn, vice president of ValueOptions® Florida operation. "This arrangement tosses aside the usual obstacles for seeking care, such as transportation issues as well as the resistance to seek treatment."
ValueOptions selected the David Lawrence Center's Immokalee, Fla., satellite services location as an initial site for Telemed Direct, a tele-psychiatry initiative that ValueOptions is rolling out across the country. David Lawrence Center CEO David Schimmel explained the advantages for communities similar to Immokalee.
"Without convenient access to care, behavioral health problems go undiagnosed or untreated and can affect all aspects of your life, be it school, work or family," Schimmel said. "Tele-psychiatry helps make sound clinical care convenient for the people who need it."
The David Lawrence Center has hired two additional multi-lingual case managers to help with the six-month pilot program.
ValueOptions' Telemed Direct service is powered by Verizon Telehealth Collaboration Services to help deliver a quality experience between patient and health care provider.
"The beauty of this set-up is that the consumer won't have to worry about the technology," Glynn said. "He or she won't even have to have home internet service. We provide everything, including setting up the equipment, in a secure and private environment, which may include the patient's home."
In a similar pilot program with school children in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, ValueOptions has seen the number of kept appointments more than double after tele-psychiatry became available. The audio and visual signals have been so strong that clinicians can still observe mannerisms and non-verbal signs. One user said it was like "sitting across the table" from the therapist.
"Over the coming months," Glynn said, "ValueOptions plans to work with Verizon Business to deploy more tele-health units across the nation, as well as equip mobile practitioners with video conferencing-enabled laptops to pilot an in-home program."
"Thus far, the consumers, staff and Psychiatrists are delighted with the service and the clarity of the signal allowing for this service to be comfortable for both the consumer and the mental health staff," said Dr. David Moore, the Florida ValueOptions Medical Director .
About ValueOptions, Inc.: ValueOptions, Inc., the nation's largest independent behavioral health and wellness company, provides services to more than 23 million individuals through a variety of contracts with state and county agencies and, additionally, with health plans and employers. ValueOptions® specializes in management for all behavioral health issues and promotes health and wellness through innovative programs. The mission of ValueOptions® is to improve the health and wellness for the people it serves.
David Lawrence Center is a not-for-profit, community mental health center that provides affordable mental health and substance abuse services in Southwest Florida. In addition to helping children with behavioral, emotional and substance abuse challenges, the Center provides counseling and rehabilitative services to adults in crisis and individuals with persistent mental illness. David Lawrence Center has eight locations in Collier County and touches the lives of more than 20,000 people each year. It is David Lawrence Center's mission to restore and rebuild the lives of all of those in need. More information about David Lawrence Center can be found online at www.davidlawrencecenter.org.
About Verizon Business: Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications, is a global leader in communications and IT solutions. We combine professional expertise with one of the world's most connected IP networks to deliver award-winning communications, IT, information security and network solutions. We securely connect today's extended enterprises of widespread and mobile customers, partners, suppliers and employees – enabling them to increase productivity and efficiency and help preserve the environment. Many of the world's largest businesses and governments – including 96 percent of the Fortune 1000 and thousands of government agencies and educational institutions – rely on our professional and managed services and network technologies to accelerate their business. Find out more at www.verizonbusiness.com.
SOURCE ValueOptions, Inc.