Baylor College of Medicine

A doctor meeting with a young patient.

Network to provide real-time pediatric psychiatric consultation

Homa Shalchi


Houston, TX -

The State of Texas is poised to launch the Child Psychiatry Access Network, or CPAN, today, Monday, May 18. CPAN will provide real-time psychiatric consultation services to primary care physicians across Texas as part of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium initiative, of which Baylor College of Medicine serves as the Centralized Operation Support Hub (COSH).

CPAN is an educational consultation and referral resource available for all primary care providers who take care of young people in Texas, provided at no cost to the physician. Dr. Laurel Williams, medical director of COSH and associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor, will provide oversight of the implementation of CPAN across the state.

Primary care physicians are the first line in providing care for mental health disorders in youth. Most psychotropic prescriptions for mental health disorders are written by primary care doctors, not child psychiatrists. According to Williams, numerous surveys of pediatricians indicate they feel they lack the necessary training and skill to assess and treat mild to moderate youth mental health disorders. CPAN can allow educational consultation in real time to help improve the physician’s knowledge and skills for mental health disorders in young people.

“Our goal is to help improve care for the young people in their office, in real time, through the CPAN phone consultation,” Williams said. “This could decrease the number of referrals child psychiatrists receive for mild to moderate problems, because the primary care physician becomes better trained and more confident in handling those needs. We hope that over time, given that there is a state and nationwide shortage of child psychiatrists, CPAN allows patients with moderate to severe mental health disorders quicker access to a child psychiatrist.”

This state-supported service includes a child psychiatrist, a resource specialist and a behavior specialist. The team has five minutes to respond to the primary care physician’s call, and based on that initial contact, the physician will speak with one of the specialists. If the doctor needs to speak with the child psychiatrist, they should expect to hear from the psychiatrist within 30 minutes. Primary care physicians can call back as many times as they need for the same young person to gain additional knowledge and skills related to the consultation question.

Primary care physicians interested in participating in CPAN should fill out the Texas CPAN Practice Participation Agreement. Physicians also can email for enrollment. Beginning May 18, 2020, they can call 1-888-901-CPAN and select option 1 to reach the Baylor hub and receive assistance with enrollment.

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