In 2009, The Bowen Center applied for and received an Indiana Rural Health grant that targeted the use of “tele-med” equipment to reduce wait times and easier access for first-time clients. With the grant, the Center purchased several Life-Size Plus units consisting of a 42-inch high-definition monitor, camera unit, microphone, stand, and control unit.
The Bowen Center primarily used the equipment for telepsychiatry, which allowed us to keep the psychiatrist or advanced practice nurse in their home county while seeing clients in counties more than twenty miles away.
How does it work? Each office was eventually equipped with a Life-Size Plus unit. The psychiatrist can be, for example, in the Huntington office (referred to as the hub site) while the client can be in Marshall County (called the spoke site). At the client end, the nurse makes the connection with the psychiatrist, announces the client and sits them in front of the monitor. The psychiatrist makes sure that both sound and video are working at both ends and proceeds with the scheduled service. At the end of the session, the client sees the nurse and schedules the next appointment. The psychiatrist's nurse calls in any prescriptions ordered to the client's pharmacy, and files the psychiatrist note and scrip in the client's folder. There is a paper chart kept at both ends of the connection according to CMS (Centers for Medicaid/Medicare Services) rules. In the first four years, the client satisfaction survey data collected indicates that tele-med is a success, particularly with adolescents and children.
Psychiatric services are only one use for tele-med, staff members who are too far away to attend meetings can participate through tele-med units in their home county. These units help save much wear and tear on the medical staff traveling constantly to distant offices, which makes tele-med a great marketing tool in attracting medical personnel to an organization. The Bowen Center is currently looking to use tele-med from its Inpatient Unit to the various county judges to do involuntary commitment hearings. In this way, the emotional trauma of having the sheriff transport a client to the hearing site is avoided since the client can stay at the hospital. It also offers the cost saving of not having to use the Sheriff's Department for hearing purposes. Another use has been the connection as a spoke site for the Veterans' Administration at the Roudebush VA Center in Indianapolis who want to serve veterans who live in the Center’s region and who require the Center’s services.