Year: 2021 Source: General Hospital Psychiatry. (2020). 63, 119-126. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2018.05.005. SIEC No: 20210293

Objective: A novel avatar system (Virtual Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality System; V-CAMS) for suicidal patients and medical personnel in emergency departments (EDs) was developed and evaluated. V-CAMS facilitates the delivery of CAMS and other evidence-based interventions to reduce unnecessary hospitalization, readmissions, and suicide following an ED visit.

Method: Using iterative user-centered design with 24 suicidal patients, an avatar prototype, “Dr. Dave” (based on Dr. Jobes) was created, along with other patient-facing tools; provider-facing tools, including a clinical decision support tool were also designed and tested to aid discharge disposition.

Results: Feasibility tests supported proof of concept. Suicidal patients affirmed the system’s overall merit, positive Perception of Care, and acceptability; medical providers (n = 21) viewed the system as an efficient, effective, and safe method of improving care for suicidal ED patients and reducing unnecessary hospitalization.

Conclusions: Technology tools including a patient-facing avatar and e-caring contacts, along with provider-facing tools may offer a powerful method of facilitating best-practice suicide prevention interventions and point-of-care tools for suicidal patients seeking ED services and their medical providers. Future directions include full development of V-CAMS and integration into a health electronic medical record and a rigorous randomized controlled trial to study its effectiveness.