Alameda County in California provides affordable health care to its uninsured residents, but primary care clinics struggle to meet the demand. The AIMS Center, in partnership with the Alameda Health Consortium, helped 30 primary care clinics develop an integrated mental health care initiative targeting depression, anxiety, and PTSD to increase the effectiveness of care. A key component of the project was determining how organizations can successfully use funding from Medicaid to implement Collaborative Care.
The New York State Collaborative Care Initiative helped primary care residents learn how to effectively practice team-based care to treat mental health conditions, a skill that has become increasingly important as integrated care becomes more widespread. Outpatient clinics associated with teaching hospitals are implementing Collaborative Care around the state, increasing the quality of mental health care for thousands of New Yorkers. By providing different intensities of technical assistance, the AIMS Center evaluated what level of support was needed to effectively help organizations implement Collaborative Care. They helped set up a technical assistance team in New York to provide on-site assistance to six clinics. Twenty other hospital organziations received web-based technical assistance, including webinars and online tools. Organizations used a patient registry to track and measure patient goals and clinical outcomes, and facilitate treatment adjustment if a patient is not improving as expected.
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 legacy terms “IMPACT Care” or “IMPACT Model” is largely synonymous with Collaborative Care. The terms originate from the IMPACT study, the first large randomized controlled trial of treatment for depression. The IMPACT study demonstrated that Collaborative Care more than doubled the effectiveness of depression treatment for older adults in primary care settings.
The Collaborative Care model (CoCM) is now recognized as effective in treating a wide range of behavioral health disorders – not just depression. A team-based Collaborative Care approach can also address anxiety and trauma disorders, chronic pain, substance use disorders including alcohol and opioids, and ADHD.
In the largest treatment trial for depression to date, a team of researchers led by Dr. Jürgen Unützer followed 1,801 depressed, older adults from 18 diverse primary care clinics across the United States for two years. The 18 participating clinics were associated with eight health care organizations in Washington, California, Texas, Indiana and North Carolina. The clinics included several Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), traditional fee-for-service clinics, an Independent Provider Association (IPA), an inner-city public health clinic, and two Veteran’s Administration clinics.
Half of the patients were randomly assigned to receive the care normally available in their primary care clinic, including medications (70% of usual care patients) and/or referral to specialty mental health. The other half of patients were randomly assigned to receive the IMPACT model of depression care, also known as Collaborative Care. A patient registry was developed for the trial that tracked and measured patient goals and clinical outcomes and facilitated treatment adjustment if a patient was not improving as expected.
As reported in JAMA in 2002, Collaborative Care more than doubled the effectiveness of depression treatment for older adults in primary care settings. At 12 months, about half of the patients receiving Collaborative Care reported at least a 50 percent reduction in depressive symptoms, compared with only 19 percent of those in usual care. A handout of usual care versus IMPACT care presents some reasons why the results were as significant as they were. Analysis of data from the survey conducted one year after IMPACT resources were no longer available showed that the benefits of the IMPACT intervention persisted after one year. IMPACT patients experienced more than one hundred additional depression-free days over a two-year period than those treated in usual care.
Since the end of the trial, over one thousand organizations in the United States and internationally have adapted and implemented Collaborative Care with diverse patient populations and for a variety of behavioral health conditions.
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.
This implementation is part of California’s Mental Health Services Act and LA County’s Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Plan. The PEI Plan focuses on prevention and early intervention services, education, support, and outreach to help inform and identify individuals and their families who may be affected by some level of mental health issue. The Mental Health Integrated Care Program in particular targets adults with depression, anxiety, and mild to moderate PTSD. Providing mental health education, outreach and early identification (prior to diagnosis) can mitigate costly negative long-term outcomes for mental health consumers and their families.
Jürgen Unützer is consulting to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to help implement and support comprehensive evidence-based depression care management in the context of its Health Improvement Initiatives.
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.
This project was borne of a unique partnership between two federal entities, HRSA and NIMH, who contracted with the AIMS Center to train and support care teams in Nurse-led clinics to implement Collaborative Care. The project began in 2017 with11 clinics in diverse regions of the US for two years. All the sites were safety-net clinics providing care to underserved, predominantly uninsured patient populations, and were located in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Target populations included low-income, homeless, and/or LGBTQ adults facing significant financial, geographic, cultural-linguistics barriers. Patients served in these clinics suffered from chronic disease conditions (e.g. diabetes, hypertension) and untreated/undertreated mental health conditions or substance abuse.
AIMS Center practice coaches provided individualized support to each clinic as they laid the groundwork for their Collaborative Care teams, which included hiring staff, developing workflows, and financial planning. Teams had highly variable staffing models and experience with integrated care, but after several months of remote team meetings and didactic webinars with practice coaches, in-person trainings, and site visits, all 11 sites launched Collaborative Care in early 2018. Each site then received ongoing clinical training for behavioral health care managers and psychiatric consultants, as well as monthly sessions with a practice coach to refine workflows and team communications, report on and improve quality metrics, and plan for financial and clinical sustainment.
A unique aspect of this project is that site visits were conducted early in Year Two of the project, and a formalized set of evaluation tools were developed and used to assess site progress and identify areas in need of support. The site visits were conducted by the AIMS practice coach and clinical trainers and thoroughly documented for reporting back to HRSA and NIMH, as well as to the sites themselves. This was a rich method for thoroughly understanding any implementation challenges these sites faced and helping them solve these problems in real time. The project concluded in June of 2019.
This NIMH-HRSA collaboration supported Strategic Objective Four (4) of the NIMH Strategic Plan, which is to strengthen the public health impact of NIMH-supported research by providing training and health information dissemination.
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