Informatics Research Seminar: NC-STeP: Using Telepsychiatry to Improve Access to Evidence-Based Care

February 4 @ 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Speaker: Sy Atezaz Saeed, MD, MS, FACPsych
Presented from ECU

Broadcast Link: Seminar



At a time when treatment for psychiatric illness has never been more effective, many people with mental health disorders do not have access to psychiatric services due to a shortage and misdistribution of providers, especially psychiatrists. This has resulted in patients going to hospital emergency departments (ED) to seek services, producing long lengths of stay and boarding of psychiatric patients in hospital EDs. A growing body of literature suggests that telepsychiatry be used to mitigate the workforce shortage and improve access to care, especially in remote/underserved areas. The North Carolina Statewide Telepsychiatry Program (NC-STeP), launched in 2014 by a large collaborative of key stakeholders and awarded $4 million in public/private funding, is designed to assure that individuals experiencing an acute behavioral health crisis can enter a hospital ED anywhere statewide and receive timely, evidence-based psychiatric treatment.

Based at East Carolina University’s Center for Telepsychiatry, the program is not only addressing the problems associated with access to mental health care, but also helping North Carolina face a pressing and difficult challenge: integration of science-based treatment practices into routine clinical care. In the program’s first 11 months, it has connected 50 of the projected 85 hospitals, completed over 6,000 patient encounters, and implemented a web portal combining scheduling, EMR, HIE functions, and data management systems—meeting or exceeding all of its legislatively defined timelines. The seminar will provide full-year data on the length of stay, dispositions, IVC status, and other parameters for ED patients who received NC-STeP services. It will demonstrate how well positioned the program is to build capacity by taking care of patients in community-based settings and by creating collaborative linkages across continuums of care. By doing so, the program implements evidence-based practice to make recovery possible for patients that it serves.


Sy Atezaz Saeed, MD, MS, FACPsych has chaired East Carolina University’s Department of Psychiatric Medicine since 2004. He also is Director of ECU’s Center for Telepsychiatry, Director of the North Carolina Statewide Telepsychiatry Program (NC-STeP), and Chief of Psychiatry at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Dr. Saeed has published extensively in the areas of evidence-based practices; anxiety and mood disorders; telepsychiatry; cross­ cultural issues; psychiatric administration; and psychiatric treatment integration. His scholarly and research interest areas include study of the process and impact of implementing evidence-based practices in mental health settings; telepsychiatry; and systems approach to psychiatric administration and management.