Implementing a Pediatric Telepsychiatry Service to address Access to care challenges for children in rural and underserved communities

Fellowship Paper - March 16, 2021

This business plan is for Houston-based Golden Leaves Health System (GLHS) to implement a Pediatric Telepsychiatry service to address access to care challenges for children in rural and underserved communities in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Montgomery counties in Texas. Providing fully integrating telepsychiatry services with primary care providers' offices in these counties, GLHS connects its Houston-based psychiatrists from its network of community health centers with eligible patients.

Nearly 1 in 5 children in the United States have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder (O’Connell, Boat, & Warner, 2009), such as anxiety, depression, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Disruptive Behavior Disorder (DBD), and Tourette syndrome. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) estimates that 61% of areas with a mental health professional shortage are rural or partially rural or underserved areas (Bureau of Health Workforce, January 2017).

Traditionally, underserved, and rural areas have struggled to attract psychiatrists to care for patients, as a result, these families (on average) have to embark on a two-hour drive to see a psychiatrist sometimes after waiting for a few weeks. GLHS is strategically targeting three (3) Texas counties of over 400,000 residents, where at least 25% of the population is under the age of eighteen (18) and the psychiatrist per 100,000 children is under 10. The organization plans to leverage its telepsychiatry service to increase access to care in these underserved and rural Texas counties.

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