In an effort to keep people with behavioral health care problems out of hospital emergency rooms and get them into treatment centers faster, this week state health officials announced that a new online bed registry program, BH SCAN, which is expected to help significantly.

According to state health officials, every day, across North Carolina, there are hundreds of people waiting in hospital emergency rooms for behavioral health care. One reason this happens, according to a press release announcing the new registry, is that “a real-time list of operational beds isn’t available, which makes it difficult to connect people in emergency departments to care in more appropriate settings.”

Therefore, to address what state health officials have labeled a “growing behavioral health crisis,” the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has created the new internet-based tool to help hospitals and other providers quickly find an open bed where that person can get treatment for their drug problem or mental health issues.

BH SCAN is a centralized, web-accessible, frequently updated bed registry that lists open beds so that healthcare providers can refer people to treatment centers and get them out of emergency rooms.

According to state health officials, one of every five North Carolinians is currently experiencing behavioral health problems.

NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley in a Tuesday, Jan. 31 press release stated that this new registry is one investment that should reap real rewards for people across the state.

“In a moment of crisis, individuals and their families need help to find their way to the care they need quickly,” Kinsley said. “A centralized bed tracking system helps patients find providers faster and helps us understand how precious bed resources are being used across the state — it’s one of the many investments we’re making in North Carolina’s behavioral health and resilience. One of my top three priorities is to invest in behavioral health and resilience as we move forward from the pandemic, and this new resource is one solution of many needed to get people the care they need.”

The new web-based registry allows referring facilities to search for an “appropriate and available inpatient behavioral bed” by using a variety of search criteria including demographics, the intensity of the problem, and the patient’s location.

BH SCAN isn’t just available for emergency rooms but also for other providers that frequently encounter behavioral health patients in crisis.