Beam Me Out: Review of Emergency Department Telepsychiatry and Lessons Learned During COVID-19

Nabil Natafgi, Casey Childers, Amanda Pollak, Shanikque Blackwell, Suzanne Hardeman, Stewart Cooner, Robert Bank, Brenda Ratliff, Victoria Gooch, Kenneth Rogers, Meera Narasimhan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: The aim of this review is to critically evaluate recent literature on the use of telepsychiatry in emergency departments (EDTP) and synthesize the evidence on telepsychiatry during public health emergencies. We also report on experiences and success stories from a state-wide EDTP program in South Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent Findings: We identified 12 peer-reviewed articles published between January 2019 and February 2021 that evaluated EDTP interventions and their impact on patient outcomes. The recent evidence on EDTP shows a significant association between EDTP implementation or use and decreased patients’ wait time in emergency department (ED), shorter length of stay in certain settings, reduced ED revisit rates, improved ED patient disposition (e.g., more discharge to home, less observational stays, and decreased inpatient admissions), and reduced follow-up encounters involving self-harm diagnosis. Summary: The EDTP virtual delivery model can help healthcare systems reduce burden of public health emergencies on providers, staff, and patients alike. While a disruption of magnitude seen by COVID-19 may be infrequent, strategies used during the pandemic may be implemented to enhance care in rural settings, and/or enhance preparedness of communities and healthcare systems during more commonly occurring natural disasters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number72
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergency department
  • Emergency telepsychiatry
  • Mental health
  • Public health emergency
  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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