Pennsylvania Telephonic Psychiatric Consultation Service Program (TiPS)
Healthcare providers who care for patients covered by HealthChoices can now access immediate behavioral health support through the Telephonic Psychiatric Consultation Service Program (TiPS). HealthChoices is Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance (Medicaid) Program.
TiPS is a Pennsylvania HealthChoices program designed to increase the availability of child psychiatry consultation teams, regionally and by phone, to primary care providers (PCPs) and other prescribers of psychotropic medications. The program is available for children insured by Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance (Medicaid) Program.
TiPS provides real-time, peer-to-peer resources to the PCPs who need immediate consultative advice for children (up to age 21) with behavioral health concerns. TiPS psychiatrists do not prescribe medications. There is one TiPS team in each of the five HealthChoices zones in Pennsylvania. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia provides consultation to providers in the Southeast Zone.
How to enroll in TiPS
PCPs can contact their TiPS team to enroll. There is no fee: TiPS is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) through the Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). It is free for all prescribers of psychotropic medications to use.
Once your practice enrolls in TiPS, your regional team will come to your office or provide education over the phone for you and your staff. They will explain the program, how to access services, answer questions, and discuss expectations.
Regional TiPS teams
HealthChoices Southeast Zone — Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: 267-426-1776
HealthChoices Northeast and Lehigh/Capital — Penn State Children’s Hospital: 800-233-4082
HealthChoices Southwest and Northwest — Children’s Community Pediatrics: 844-972-8477
Improving access to child psychiatry
Access to child psychiatry has been a significant problem nationwide for years, as documented in the Surgeon General's report of 2000. Increasing prevalence of child behavioral health issues coupled with a stagnant workforce has only exacerbated the situation. Children's primary care providers end up meeting this need even though they may not feel completely prepared to do so.
In response to the issue, Pennsylvania has adopted a psychiatry consultation program based upon a University of Massachusetts Medical School program. This model is now being used in more than 30 other states throughout the country.
With help from TiPS teams, pediatricians and family physicians can effectively meet the needs of youth with common mental health conditions, such as ADHD and mild depression. Of course, some youth need specialty psychiatric care and have medication needs that are not appropriately managed in the primary care setting. TiPS teams can help connect to appropriate care.
Who are TiPS team members?
TiPS teams are comprised of child psychiatrists, licensed therapists, care coordinators and administrative support. They are available to assist any PCP who sees children or adolescents covered by HealthChoices. They also support behavioral health clinicians working on-site in primary care practices. See the map and list for the current TiPS team in your area.
TiPS core services include:
- Telephone and face-to-face consultation
- Care coordination
- Training and education
Practices use TiPS most frequently for a provider-to-provider (peer-to-peer) consultation. Phone inquiries are usually patient-specific, but can also be about any general question related to child psychiatry, behavioral health or community resources.
TiPS team members respond to a request for consultation within 30 minutes, and often immediately. The consultation would usually result in one of the following outcomes, depending on the needs of the child and family:
- An answer to the PCP's question
- Referral to the team care coordinator to assist the family in accessing local behavioral health services, such as therapy, specialty psychiatry, or neuro-psychological assessment
- Referral to the team therapist to provide transitional, face-to-face care or telephonic support to the child and family until the family can access local behavioral health resources
- Referral to the team or local child psychiatrist for a face-to-face acute psychopharmacological or diagnostic consultation
TiPS care coordinators are expert at identifying and maintaining up-to-date behavioral health resources in the community. They work with families to identify appropriate options, provide information on the expected wait times, and follow up to ensure connections are made. Care coordinators keep the PCP or other practice informed of the referrals and the outcome of the follow-up efforts so the referring provider can ensure their patients are receiving the care they need.
Training and Education
TiPS teams for each zone are available for training and education based on the needs and desires of the practice. These can be brief "brown bag" lunches on specific topics, round table seminars with multiple practices, grand rounds, or case consultations.
Common topics include:
- Education on a particular class of type of psychotropic medication; black box warnings; new prescribing guidelines
- Implementation and use of screening or assessment tools
- Specific diagnostic or symptom education, i.e. self-injury, binging, substance use
- Developing a referral network of community resources