Social Innovation Fund: Healthy Futures

IMPROVING DEPRESSION CARE IN THE RURAL WEST: SOCIAL INNOVATION FUND

Poor mental health is a major public health issue that robs millions of people of their chance to lead healthy and productive lives. Depression alone doubles overall healthcare costs, worsens other medical conditions, and results in a staggering loss of productivity at work. In underserved rural areas in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) region, a severe shortage of mental health providers compounds these problems.

Through a public-private partnership, the AIMS Center supported eight rural community primary care clinics serving low-income patients to implement collaborative care (also called collaborative care management or CoCM) in the WWAMI region, a geographic area served by the University of Washington School of Medicine and representing 27% of the land mass of the United States. These 8 clinics planned to serve 3,250 patients but ultimately enrolled 5,392 patients. This represents 16% of the total unique patients served by these clinics and is a significant increase of the patients they were able to reach before implementing CoCM.

Read: One Clinic’s Story.

Texas Integrated Health Care Program

The AIMS Center provided training and coaching to five primary care organizations in Texas to implement integrated care for the two mental health conditions most commonly encountered in primary care: depression and anxiety disorders.

A study evaluating outcomes of this program found that vastly different organizations were all able to integrate mental health into primary care settings that serve disadvantaged communities. All five organizations in this program showed meaningful improvement in patient depression outcomes, regardless of varying patient characteristics. Sites that achieved the best patient outcomes engaged patients early, with multiple care manager contacts in the first 3 months of treatment, and received consultation and supervision from psychiatric providers.

Reference
Bauer, A. M., Azzone, V., Goldman, H. H., Alexander, L., Unützer, J., Coleman-Beattie, B., & Frank, R. G. (2011). Evaluating the implementation of collaborative depression management in community-based primary care clinics. Psychiatric Services. 62(9), 1047–1053. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.62.9.1047

Whole Person Integrated Texting for Health (WITH)

The number of older adults is rising sharply and is expected to increase from 40.3 million to 72.1 million between 2010 and 2030. According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of adults aged 65 and older use text messaging. Despite misconceptions to the contrary, text messaging as part of primary care for older adults is growing. Text messaging holds promise as a strategy for engaging older adults in Collaborative Care depression treatment through frequent contact with a behavioral health care manager. The purpose of this research project is to develop and pilot test a text messaging intervention delivered in California primary care settings serving a patient population that is at least 25% older adults. Published research (Bao et. al. 2015) demonstrated that early follow-up contact predicts better clinical outcomes for patients. A recent analysis published by the AIMS Center (Renn et. al. 2021) showed that Collaborative Care was equally effective in older and younger adults but that older adults needed more contact with the behavioral health care manager to achieve these equivalent outcomes. Text messaging may be an effective strategy for both early and more frequent contact with patients. The AIMS Center is partnering with the Archstone Foundation on this project.

Stay Connected

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to find new ways to make and maintain connections with others, especially with older adults in our own lives and communities. In response to increasing COVID-related isolation, AIMS Center members and UW faculty developed a program called Stay Connected. Delivered via telehealth, Stay Connected is a program that employs evidence-based behavioral strategies for older adults experiencing loneliness, anxiety, or depression symptoms. Case managers, community health workers, and others working in senior service settings make structured phone calls to a caseload of clients in which they ask targeted questions and provide specific tools and guidance to ward off stress, loneliness, and anxiety. Callers are trained and supported by licensed behavioral health clinicians and psychologists.

“The Stay Connected program helps older adults restructure their day and add self-care and mood boosters.” – Patrick Raue, PhD

The program was developed by AIMS Center members in partnership with organizations participating in an Archstone Foundation-funded project known as Care Partners. Stay Connected was also funded by NIMH as part of the University of Washington School of Medicine ALACRITY Center. In addition, Seattle-King County Aging and Disability Services implemented a brief pilot of the Stay Connected program in 2020.

Read a press release from the UW Medicine Newsroom: Stay Connected program helps isolated seniors

Care Partners: Bridging Families, Clinics, and Communities to Advance Late-Life Depression Care

Through Archstone Foundation’s Depression in Late Life Initiative, the Care Partners project seeks to improve depression care for older adults by building innovative and effective community partnerships. Specifically, the Care Partners project has the following goals: 1) develop late-life depression innovations among primary care, community-based organizations (CBOs) and family, 2) build a learning community of clinics, CBOs, and researchers in California who will work together on the Care Partners Late-Life Depression Initiative to improve care for depressed older adults, 3) conduct an evaluation of the developing models, and 4) develop and conduct a Learning Collaborative in Year 5 for California clinics and CBOs interested in improving depression care for older adults. Throughout the project, project teams at the University of Washington (UW) and UC-Davis (UCD) provide technical assistance and evaluation to support site development and sustainment. Together, the community-engaged partnerships have tremendous potential to improve access to care, patient engagement, patient care experience and quality of care. In addition, CBO and clinic partners are well primed to improve care through addressing the social determinants of health.

Collaborative Care for Pregnant People and Primary Caregivers in Lower Income Communities

Untreated mental health illnesses have serious consequences for families, but fewer than one in four depressed people who identify as mothers receive effective treatment. This project examined depression care and clinical outcomes for pregnant people and people who identify as either mothers or primary caregivers, treated in 14 clinics serving racially and ethnically diverse communities with lower incomes as part of the Mental Health Integration Program (MHIP). The outcome of this project was published in Family Practice. Huang H. et al (2012) found that although there was substantial depression improvement in all four of the ethnic groups studied (Asian, Black, Latinx, White), outcomes of Latinx patients were higher than those of Black patients regardless of other demographic or clinical factors. Notably, this study shows that more intensive care management in the first month of treatment for primary care can lead to better outcomes for pregnant people, and mothers or primary caregivers with lower incomes experiencing depression. Another study describes the experiences of care managers working in this program and found that motivational interviewing skills were a valuable asset in engaging patients in care, which generally leads to better outcomes.

References

  • Huang, H., Chan, Y.-F., Katon, W., Tabb, K., Sieu, N., Bauer, A. M., Wasse, J. K., & Unützer, J. (2012). Variations in depression care and outcomes among high-risk mothers from different racial/ethnic groups. Family Practice, 29(4), 394–400. https://doi.org/10.1093/fampra/cmr108
  • Huang, H., Bauer, A. M., Wasse, J. K., Ratzliff, A., Chan, Y.-F., Harrison, D., & Unützer, J. (2013). Care managers’ experiences in a collaborative care program for high risk mothers with depression. Psychosomatics, 54(3), 272–276. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psym.2012.07.011