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February 10, 2009

LifeSize Enables Telepsychiatry with HD Video Conferencing Solutions

By Michelle Robart, TMCnet Editor

In an effort to meet the increasing need for psychological and psychiatric services, LifeSize Communications is delivering its high definition video communications products to JSA Health, a company providing on-demand psychiatric services.
LifeSize (News - Alert) will enable JSA Health to provide fast and flexible access to emergent, urgent and routine psychiatric evaluation to mental health patients.
JSA Health is a booming organization and in its first year of operation, it had over 5000 patient encounters using LifeSize HD video.
“We are now serving a growing number of ongoing and on-demand patients in 25 locations and counting,” said Steve Weylandt, CEO, JSA Health. “With LifeSize, we are able to provide care to a much broader range of patients and that’s what makes our work so exciting.”
“LifeSize is proud to be associated with JSA Health and their pioneering use of high- definition video in telepsychiatry,” stated Craig Malloy, CEO, LifeSize Communications. “It’s a strong statement about the quality of the HD video experience that LifeSize video conferencing products can replicate the face-to-face interaction needed to provide the vital psychiatric care in emergency rooms and clinics.”
Scott Zeller, M.D., vice president, JSA Health, explained that with high-definition communication products, psychiatrists are able to meet the need for care in emergency settings.
Currently there is a shortage of mental health care professionals, especially in rural communities. This challenge has caused a large number of patients to suffer without care or in some cases, to wait days or weeks for psychiatric help.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 184 of the 254 counties in the state to not have enough counselors. JSA Health steps in situations like this to provide psychiatric evaluations in emergency rooms, rural mental health centers, schools and jails.
Although it is not a new concept, Telepsychiatry, or the idea that a psychiatrist and a patient can connect over Internet-based video, has slowly gained acceptance in the psychiatry community.
“Ten years ago, physicians saw the need, but the quality just wasn’t there,” said Weylandt. “Bad audio and blotchy pictures – doctors were just not comfortable using it.”
After witnessing the excellent video quality, flexibility and price performance offered by LifeSize video conferencing systems, JSA Health selected the compact LifeSize Express product for deployment across their care network. Today, JSA Health uses HD video solutions to diagnose and treat patients approximately 125 hours per week.
“Telepsychiatry will rapidly become the fastest expanding segment within psychiatry as a whole,” said Avrim Fishkind, president and chief medical officer of JSA Health. “Psychiatrists cannot possibly cover the 4,700 medical emergency rooms, inpatient units and intensive care units in the United States. With LifeSize, in one day, I saw patients in four different Texas clinics that would have required me to drive over 600 miles in my car.”
JSA Health was created by internationally recognized psychiatrists with extensive experience in the delivery of psychiatric emergency services, disaster response, and mental health administration. The company provides fast and flexible access to emergent, urgent and routine psychiatric evaluation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Today, access to child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrists, as well as substance abuse physicians is becoming more limited. Often, patients must wait weeks or months to see a psychiatrist. JSA Health shortens the wait by providing access to psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and social workers within minutes via telemedicine and by providing same or next day assessments via our walk-in psychiatric emergency clinics.
Founded in 2003 by industry veterans and named “Videoconferencing Company of the Year” in 2007 by Videoconferencing Insight, LifeSize provides innovative solutions that combine superior quality, user simplicity and administrator manageability to make video communications a productive, true-to-life experience.

Last week, LifeSize released a new full-featured video network management platform, LifeSize Control 4.0. With this new solution, users will gain centralized management and control of various video communications networks. It also integrates into the enterprise IT framework, making video communications a natural extension to the data network.
Michelle Robart is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Michelle's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michelle Robart

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