Tele-Mental Health Now Available at KCH

November 23, 2015, 3:00 PM HST
* Updated November 23, 3:02 PM
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Patients in need of mental health services at Kona Community Hospital have a new option following the recently launched hospital-based, state-of-the-art tele-mental health program.

The new system provides patients the opportunity to digitally receive the assistance of a psychiatrist through a partnership with Dignity Health Telemedicine and In-Touch Health.

Real-time communications for psychiatric consultations and care are possible through RP-Lite Remote Presence Systems robots. The robots enable psychiatrists to be at the patient’s bedside with technology similar to Skype or FaceTime, but through an FDA approved and HIPPA compliant connection.

“We believe our patients should have access to timely, high quality mental health care,” said KCH Chief Nurse Executive Pat Kalua.

The technology use at KCH came about following a shortage of psychiatrists not only on the Big Island, but nationally. Now, the tele-mental health program connects a patient with a psychiatrist within 20 minutes of a call for service.


Services provided through the program are by licensed, board-certified psychiatrists for consultations and care of inpatients in KCH’s acute care units, like Medical Surgical and Intensive Care Units. The system’s psychiatrists can collaborate with the patient’s hospital team to co-manage care.


The service is expected to expand into the emergency department.

“This patient-centered service will greatly enhance mental health services at Kona Community Hospital,” said Kalua. “This will improve patient care and improve the patient encounter.”

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