PrairieCare PAL Program Wins Community Impact Award… What is PAL Anyway?

Mar 02, 2015 by PrairieCare Team

We are thrilled to share that PrairieCare was honored last week as a winner at the Community Impact Awards for our work on the Psychiatric Assistance Line (PAL)!  You can also click here to read the article in MN Business Magazine about our recognition.  But what exactly is PAL?

Since June 2014, PrairieCare Medical Group has been offering free clinical triage and child and adolescent psychiatric phone consultations to healthcare providers called the Psychiatric Assistance Line (PAL). The PAL service is offered on a voluntary basis and is designed to be physician-friendly and help empower the treatment of mental illnesses in the primary care setting.

So far, PAL has provided 100 consultations in the first six months; all from health providers calling on their own accord to get assistance with cases. Over 60% of the providers called PAL directly, where 40% accessed the service online by either scheduling directly, or submitting a secure online inquiry. Almost all callers cited multiple reasons for calling PAL, with a majority of the consultations regarding questions about a medication protocol for a specific patient.

The Psychiatric Assistance Line (PAL) has provided valuable clinical expertise that has empowered primary care providers to treat psychiatric conditions in a timely and cost effective way. Each of these 100 sample cases allowed patients to receive timely and quality care in a familiar environment without the costs and waiting involved in accessing a Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist. The ability for primary care providers to manage behavioral health cases in the primary care setting, can prevent the child and family from having to wait for an appointment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who are already overwhelmed with the most complex patient cases. These referrals not only take a lot of time, but are costly to the guarantor and/or insurance plan through extra copays, evaluations, labs, office consultations and more. We also know that there will be lost productivty for parents to take time off work and travel to a new clinic, that may not be near their area of residence. These costs add up quickly and can be avoided through psychiatric conslutation to primary care. It is estimated that each successful conslutation can mitigate costs of up to $3,500 per phone call.

Barriers to receiving timely consultation also means the increased risk of worsening symptoms in the meantime. Over 120 children have been served, but the service is available to serve every child across the state, and the total costs for supporting this service including administration, technology, outreach and clinical time is now available for just 34¢ per child in Minnesota. The results that are derived from successful psychiatric consultation to primary care are invaluable.

PAL has been able to provide services to 74 primary care providers in 41 clinics in the first six months, and its trajectory is to provide over 300 consultations in the first year. For children to have adequate and timely access to quality behavioral healthcare, innovative and collaborate services like PAL must be made available, and its value will grow exponentially over time.

Visit our blog for content on all things mental health related.

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