Escalating prescription opioid use and abuse have emerged as major public health problems in Washington. Rural communities in particular have been hit hard due to their limited access to specialists. This project allows mental health specialists in urban areas to support health care providers in rural areas using videoconferencing technology. Patient evaluations and recommendations, caseload supervision, and education are all done remotely via telehealth. This project aims to establish acceptance, effectiveness, and cost-efficacy of telehealth for delivery of mental health and pain medicine care in rural primary care.
The Mental Health Integration Program (MHIP), supported and administered by the Community Health Plan of Washington in partnership with Public Health -Seattle and King County, integrates mental health screening and treatment in a collaborative care model (CoCM), including psychiatric case review and consultation. MHIP collaborative care teams in Washington State safety-net primary care settings serve diverse Medicaid and uninsured populations. Since MHIP’s inception in 2007, over 50,000 individuals have received integrated mental health services. In 2007 it began as a state-funded, two-county pilot for high risk uninsured adults in King and Pierce counties, but MHIP expanded statewide in early 2009 to include over 130 primary care clinics.
MHIP uses a patient registry (CMTS) to track and measure patient goals and clinical outcomes, and facilitate treatment adjustment if a patient is not improving as expected. MHIP also utilizes pay-for-performance mechanisms to support model fidelity and prioritize patient outcomes. Training and workforce efforts for this project focus on the whole team and all providers are trained on the fundamentals of CoCM.
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
Up to 25% of people with cancer will become clinically depressed, significantly affecting their quality of life and overall functioning. Depression has been associated with a decreased ability to tolerate and complete cancer treatment, as well as significantly increased healthcare costs. Unfortunately, about 75% of cancer patients with depression do not receive adequate treatment, and that likelihood is even greater for patients in rural settings. Although the CoCM model has been shown to be highly effective in the cancer setting, high-fidelity implementation has been slow, particularly in low-resourced and rural areas. The use of technology has the potential to enhance implementation and fidelity of CoCM in diverse cancer settings.
The research project “Using Technology to Optimize Collaborative Care Management of Depression in Urban and Rural Cancer Centers,” funded by the National Cancer Institute, will explore and build on this potential. This study is using a human-centered design approach to develop, build, and test a web and mobile platform to enhance the implementation and fidelity of CoCM of depression for patients being treated at 2 urban and 2 rural cancer centers. Patient-facing web and mobile applications and a clinician-facing website will aim to: (1) enhance treatment engagement among patients and clinicians; (2) collect timely patient-reported outcomes for measurement-based care; (3) promote patient-centered shared decision-making for better treatment adjustments; and (4) maximize adherence to evidence-based guideline-level behavioral and pharmacologic treatments. Once developed, the technology-enhanced CoCM model will be compared to usual CoCM to evaluate their ability to achieve optimal fidelity of CoCM and clinical outcomes.
Poor mental health is a major public health issue, affecting millions of people in their pursuit to lead optimal emotional, social, and professional lives. Depression alone can worsen other medical conditions, often doubling over-all healthcare costs, and result in a significant decrease in quality of life and overall functioning.
Rural communities and residents of those communities face significant social and health disparities as compared with urban and suburban residents. Residents of rural areas are more likely to experience health disparities. They are more likely to have chronic health conditions, less likely to receive healthcare of any kind, and less likely to receive evidence-based treatments when they do access care. Geographic maldistribution of mental health specialists from all disciplines and education levels (e.g. psychology, social work, psychiatry) creates significant access challenges. Rural areas also experience workforce shortages for primary care, where most rural mental health treatment occurs, further exacerbating access barriers. In underserved rural areas in Washington and Alaska, a severe shortage of mental health providers compounds these problems.
In an effort to ameliorate some of these disparities, the AIMS Center is partnering with Premera Blue Cross to support 23 clinics in rural Washington and Alaska to implement Collaborative Care.
Health care providers and systems need effective strategies for management of individuals with multiple coexisting chronic conditions, who are now the norm rather the exception. Among patients with diabetes, the presence of co-morbid depression is associated with increased risk of complications, cardiovascular events and mortality—and higher medical costs. The TEAMcare study was a randomized controlled trial that demonstrated the effectiveness of the collaborative care model (CoCM) for treatment of depression, diabetes, and coronary heart disease in primary care. This multi-center trial was conducted by the University of Washington in collaboration with the Group Health Research Institute with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
The TEAMcare findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010. The primary result was that (when compared to usual care) a multi-disciplinary team providing measurement-based care and nurse care management significantly improved outcomes for depression and coronary heart disease and/or diabetes at a lower cost over a 12-month treatment period.