NYS Office of Mental Health launches electronic tracking system to reduce wait time for inpatient care
Friday, March 15, 2019 - 5:45 am

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) recently announced the launch of a new bed tracking system to improve the way information about inpatient bed availability is collected and maintained statewide.

The Bed Availability System (BAS) will expect all hospitals in the state 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.

“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.

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.

The BAS launched March 1, 2019 after a successful 3-week pilot of the system in September 2018. The system was patterned after the bed availability tool implemented by the NYS 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).