University of South Carolina

USC School of Medicine researcher receives $2.7 million grant to study telehealth

By Matt Splett,, 803-216-3302

Meera Narasimhan, M.D., vice dean for innovative health care technologies and professor and chair of the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, has been awarded a $2.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study telehealth in emergency rooms.

The study will evaluate the health care utilization, quality, sustainability and economic impact of an existing statewide telehealth initiative that is providing care in emergency departments throughout South Carolina. In addition, the study will determine whether the organizational model should be provided nationally.

The statewide telepsychiatry initiative provides emergency psychiatric care access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A psychiatrist provides assessment and recommendations for initial treatment and works closely with the emergency room physicians to identify resources in the community to help the patient with follow-up care. Patients who receive quality follow-up care are less likely to need re-hospitalization and often enjoy an improved quality of life.

In recognition of its innovative and collaborative nature, the statewide telepsychiatry initiative received the American Psychiatric Association’s Silver Achievement Award for 2011.

“We are proud to belong to the great state of South Carolina and to have successfully demonstrated how public, private, and academic partners can come together to work collaboratively to improve access, affordability and quality care to the citizens of our state through this innovative project that serves as a national model of health service delivery,” Narasimhan said.

The NIH-funded study is a partnership between the University of South Carolina, South Carolina Department of Mental Health, S.C. Office of Research and Statistics and Emory University.

“We are very grateful to the National Institutes of Health, the Duke Endowment, and the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services for making it possible for us to render care to the citizens of South Carolina,” Narasimhan said. “We are delighted to be a part of this venture and hope this collaboration paves the way for other transformational changes in health care to better serve the health care needs of our state and beyond.”

Narasimhan and Benjamin Druss, M.D., MPH, Rosalynn Carter Chair in Mental Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, will serve as co-principal investigators on the grant.

Posted: 09/26/12 @ 10:00 AM | Updated: 09/27/12 @ 11:06 AM | Permalink