Dallas-Area Network Connects ERs, Law Enforcement and Mental Health Providers


Dallas-based Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) is working with health IT vendor Loopback Analytics to connect Dallas area hospital emergency rooms, law enforcement and behavioral health providers to reduce jail and ER visits.

MMHPI’s partnership with Loopback Analytics will build an integrated network to improve coordination between the Dallas County jail, area hospitals and psychiatric facilities. Through this network, behavioral health specialists can be alerted when an individual in crisis is detained by law enforcement or brought to an ER. A trained specialist can then step in to ensure the patient is referred to the proper mental health provider to receive appropriate treatment and follow-up care.

The network will work to notify service providers to coordinate referral and follow-up for mental health patients to ensure they receive appropriate, long-term treatment to reduce emergency room visits, law enforcement detention and recidivism, freeing up resources to focus on public safety, according to a press release about the partnership.

In Dallas and around the nation, law enforcement officers are the primary first responders for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Often those individuals are either jailed or transported to a local ER, neither of which are adequately equipped to deliver appropriate behavioral health care. Once the immediate crisis passes, these individuals are released and often wind up back in the system with another ER visit or incarceration—sometimes a dozen or more per year.

According to MMHPI’s recent study into the problem, the cost of care for these “super-utilizers” exceeds $210 million annually in the Dallas County area alone.

“We have always focused on devising innovative solutions to deliver the diverse mental health resources and services that are so desperately needed across Texas, and serving as a model for integrated behavioral health care,” Andrew Keller, MMHPI executive director, said in a statement.

Loopback will leverage components from recent engagements in Massachusetts, where they are currently integrated with community hospitals to identify and engage with at-risk behavioral health patients, while tracking and refining care protocols to measure intervention success. Loopback’s platform will serve as the primary systems integrator, monitoring each connected facility to notify service providers of a patient’s location, enable tracking of intervention fidelity and outcomes, and identify target population patients.

“This is a tremendous problem all across the country, and we are very impressed with MMHPI’s data-driven approach to solving it with real, measurable solutions,” Loopback CEO Neil Smiley said in a statement. “We believe this is the first major urban area in the U.S. to implement such a program at this scale, and we’re extremely pleased to be the technology partner to make it happen.”

With support from the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation, implementation will begin in the next few months and extend throughout 2017, according to a press release.

November 18, 2016 by Heather Landi