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HAP Leadership Summit Day 1: A Focus on Behavioral Health

3 Takeaways from HAP's Leadership Summit preconference

May 09, 2022

Pennsylvania’s hospitals are focused on behavioral health across care settings and are dedicated to achieving better health outcomes in their communities. 

This afternoon, HAP’s Leadership Summit kicked off with a focus on behavioral health. COVID-19 has amplified existing challenges in behavioral health care, especially the state’s shortage of post-acute placements and behavioral health treatment options.

During HAP’s Leadership Summit preconference, Scott Zeller, MD, vice president, Acute Psychiatric Medicine Division, Vituity, discussed the nation’s mental health crisis and strategies to leverage new care delivery models for patients experiencing psychiatric emergencies. Michael Draine, regional executive from the American Hospital Association, also provided perspectives on national advocacy around behavioral health.

The afternoon session included a panel of Pennsylvania’s behavioral health leaders offering insights and best practices to improve care for patients with behavioral health needs.

The panel included: Jack Rozel, MD, MSL, medical director of resolve Crisis Services, UPMC; Elizabeth (Liz) A. Sysak, PhD, senior director, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Dale Brickley, PhD, MBA, senior director, behavioral health, Wellspan Health; and Chadd K. Kraus, DO, DrPH, MPH, CPE, FACEP, system director, emergency medicine research, Geisinger.

Here are three takeaways from this afternoon’s pre-conference:

  1.  Tsunami of need:  A behavioral health crisis that was already worsening before the pandemic has escalated into a “tsunami.” Providers are seeing more—and higher acuity—patients with behavioral health needs at a time when access to services is limited.
  2. Collaboration is key:  Behavioral health and emergency department practitioners can provide better care and reduce the time patients spend in emergency departments by working together to quickly assess and begin treatment for patients experiencing psychiatric emergencies, Zeller said. He outlined strategies for collaborating to meet the needs of patients in crisis, including the use of EmPATH units.
  3. Telehealth pros and cons:  Telehealth has helped expand access to behavioral health care and enabled hospitals to provide emergency psychiatric services amid a clinical shortage. But panelists said the technology has its limits and can’t entirely replace the benefits of an in-person evaluation, especially for patients experiencing a psychiatric emergency.

HAP continues to advocate for new health care delivery models and additional flexibility to better address patients' behavioral health care needs.

This evening, HAP will recognize the COVID-19 Innovation Award Winners for their exemplary projects to address the unique needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The winners were selected from nearly 80 blinded entries that were evaluated by a group of independent judges from Pennsylvania and across the nation. The winning projects are:

  • First Place:  Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 
  • Second Place:  Allegheny Health Network 
  • Third Place:  Penn Medicine and Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic 

Learn more about the outstanding efforts of Pennsylvania’s hospitals online.

HAP’s Leadership Summit will conclude tomorrow, with additional perspectives about the future of health care and the challenges ahead.