William C. Torrey, MD

Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Dr. William Torrey is a Professor and Interim Chair for the Department of Psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. In this role, he leads the Department promoting all its missions across its research and practice sites. He practices psychiatry, promotes and implements innovative psychiatric services across the Dartmouth-Hitchcock service system, trains others to provide evidence-supported care and applies what he learns in his clinical administrative capacity to enhance services research projects. Through these activities, he seeks to extend access to sustainable effective psychiatric services.

For more than 25 years Dr. Torrey has combined clinical leadership with services research participation – the practical experiential knowledge he gained from administrative efforts contributes to the work of research teams at the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center and Dartmouth’s Center for Technology and Behavioral Health. For example, while overseeing service implementation at Dartmouth’s academic community mental health center as its Medical Director, Dr. Torrey became deeply engaged in studying this topic as part of the Psychiatric Research Center’s National Implementing Evidence-Based Practices Project. The research project entailed designing an implementation strategy for five psychosocial practices for adults with severe mental illnesses, developing an integrated implementation package (educational materials, training materials, consultation), field-testing the strategy in routine community mental health centers across the country (53 sites in 8 states), and studying the implementation process and outcomes. Using his understanding of several of the practices and his administrative and research experience, Dr. Torrey helped design the implementation strategy, wrote the prototype clinician training manual for the project (on Supported Employment), worked closely with prominent researchers to design and implement the study, give talks, and write papers. The resources developed to support practice implementation are among the most frequently downloaded materials on the SAMHSA website (http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/cmhs/communitysupport/toolkits/) and are used to train others to implement the practices across the country.

Dr. Torrey is now overseeing all of the Department of Psychiatry. To enhance access to behavioral health services within Dartmouth-Hitchcock, he is building out integrated mental health and addiction services in many general medical settings. The Department of Psychiatry has developed and implemented innovative mental health and addiction collaborative programs in adult and child primary care, OB-Gyn, Neurology, Gastroenterology, and cancer center and are in the process of building out similar services in the HIV clinics and across many new primary care settings. In addition, the Department of Psychiatry has used new reporting technology to target and speed up their inpatient consultation service, significantly reducing length of stay in their academic medical center. Part of their success in creating and implementing collaborative care programs has come from building the use of patient-provided clinical data into the routine care process. Before each face-to-face visit, they use computers to screen for common difficulties, evaluate further if screening is positive, and track progress over time. This technology brings data to the clinical interactions, objectifies difficulties using standardized instruments, focuses resources on those that need the attention most, and creates space in the time with the doctor for shared decision-making.

Dr. Torrey’s administrative experiences create new research opportunities. His work in collaborative care psychiatry in primary care settings led to a project funded by Johnson & Johnson to enhance depression care with a web-based health coaching system. In a recently completed PCORI project, he helped design a computer-based screening and tracking system to make follow-up psychiatric visits more efficient and effective, testing it in many clinical sites across Pennsylvania. He is also working on a federally funded project to build out and study depression and alcohol use disorder care in rural and urban primary care sites in Latin America beginning in five sites in Colombia, South America.