An innovative solution for pediatric mental health emergencies

Faced with a crisis in pediatric mental health, Children's Health, a leading pediatric healthcare system in North Texas, partnered with Philips to develop an innovative behavioral health solution for pediatric patients who displayed intense aggression and anxiety.

During a September webinar sponsored by Philips and hosted by Becker's Healthcare, representatives from Children's Health and Philips discussed unmet needs, collaboration and their innovative solution. Panelists were:

  • Renee' Cecil, RN, senior consultant, clinical optimization, Philips
  • Geneva Burnap, RN, senior director, emergency services, Children's Health
  • Keri Kaiser, senior vice president, chief marketing and experience officer, Children's Health

Four key takeaways:

1. Health systems are experiencing a pediatric mental health crisis. ED pediatric behavioral health visits have increased dramatically in recent years. At the Children's Health Medical Center Dallas Emergency Department, while behavioral health patients comprise only 4.5 percent of patients, "Actual care hours were 20 percent of our work," Ms. Burnap said. This data helped make the business case for change.

The current room design in most EDs does not support the mental health needs of children and families. At Children's Health, ensuring safety meant that rooms were bare. Ms. Kaiser said she felt helpless when caring for young children with mental health issues, who at times spent time in empty rooms for days, with little hope of placement in inpatient behavioral health facilities.

2. Philips and Children's Health partnered to improve the experience of pediatric behavioral health patients. For Ms. Kaiser, learning about Philips' "NICU of the future" was an inspiration. She thought, "Could we collaborate to design a solution tailored to our ED setting to improve the experience?" She wondered about a solution to minimize the agitation of pediatric behavioral health patients, in combination with better training for staff.

Children's Health's ED goals were to support de-escalation and active relaxation, reduce the use of sedation and restraints and decrease length of stay. Ms. Kaiser credits Philips with listening to her ideas, partnering to address unmet needs and bringing staff, physicians and families into the design process.

3. The result is an Ambient Experience offering positive distraction and active relaxation. Children's Health collaborated with Philips to meet these goals. Together they developed an integrated solution, a clinical environment designed to improve patient and staff experiences. "The Ambient Experience solution utilizes projections, sounds and cove lighting to create a relaxing environment," Ms. Cecil said. The rooms are customizable along different visual themes, with elements such as a pulsating "breathing" star against a night sky.

Philips identified another provider, Recornect, that had solutions focused on mental health. Using an innovative, high-security screen capable of withstanding impact, the media wall allows patients, providers and families to connect, play games and reduce stress. "The combination of the Ambient Experience along with the interactive touchscreen helped meet the goals," Ms. Cecil explained, supporting de-escalation and active relaxation, reducing use of sedation and restraints and decreasing length of stay.

4. Preliminary results are promising. The experience at Children's Health has been positive. Staff report that the Philips rooms enable them to interact with patients in a safe, therapeutic environment. Studies are ongoing, but the anecdotal results are favorable. Clinicians have developed breakthrough therapeutic relationships. Ms. Burnap relayed the story of a patient with aggressive behavior that required the patient to be restrained on a stretcher in order to be moved into the room. Within two hours of being in the room, the restraints were removed, and the patient was discharged that evening.

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