State launches new tracking system for psychiatric care

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The state Office of Mental Health launched a new bed tracking system that will improve the way information about inpatient bed availability is collected and maintained statewide.

The Bed Availability System will expect all hospitals in New York to report psychiatric inpatient bed availability twice daily. OMH Field Offices, County Mental Health Directors and all general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and OMH state-operated hospitals will have access to the search tool for immediate, up-to-date information.

Previously, OMH has maintained a voluntary bed reporting system called the “Available Beds Reporting System” (ABRS).  ABRS has been used by hospital emergency departments and OMH Field Office Staff, as well as County Local Mental Hygiene Directors, to locate available inpatient beds for patients in need of placement.  

However, reporting often proved to be sporadic, leading to unreliable data and prompted the new system, officials said.

“The Office of Mental Health is constantly examining our psychiatric bed availability and working to improve accessibility and reduce wait times for inpatient care,” said OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “The Bed Availability System will improve data collection to highlight where beds are available and where the need is the greatest. It’s a system that has far-reaching benefits for the entire mental health system and is expected to reduce the wait time for individuals who need the intensive level of care that inpatient treatment provides.”

To help facilitate implementation of the new system, OMH was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). OMH plans to use the funding to provide in-person training and remote assistance to hospital staff to complete and maintain the BAS. Individual assistance will be available to each hospital statewide to assure sufficient staff are trained and have access to the BAS application.  

The BAS launched March 1 after a successful three-week pilot of the system in September 2018. The system was patterned after the bed availability tool implemented by the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in 2015. The BAS will be located on the Health Electronic Response Data System (HERDS), a component of the Health Commerce System managed by the NYS Department of Health (DOH).

“Accurate data on psychiatric inpatient bed availability will enhance providers’ ability to improve the timelines of admissions and help decrease the length of stay in less optimal settings, such as emergency departments,” said Bea Grause, registered nurse and President of the Healthcare Association of New York State. “HANYS looks forward to working with OMH on the BAS to assist our members and patients.”

“New York’s hospital community appreciates OMH’s effort to address our concerns about locating scare psychiatric beds for individuals requiring inpatient care,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske. “The Bed Availability System will help our member hospitals identify these vital services in a timely manner. We thank OMH for their leadership on this important issue.”

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