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.
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 Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority provided pilot funding to a Federally Qualified Health Center in Anchorage to support implementation of Collaborative Care and two Alaska Native tribal health corporations to support implementation of Collaborative Care and SBIRT (Substance Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment). The purpose of this program was to determine if integrated mental health care can be effective given the unique challenges faced by primary care clinics in Alaska.
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
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 AIMS Center provided training and technical assistance to St. Luke’s Health System as they implemented a Collaborative Care program in April 2017. This implementation took place over 12 months and included three clinics in spring 2017 and two clinics in fall 2017. Eventually collaborative care will be spread across the entire of network of clinics at St. Luke’s Health System, the only Idaho-based, not-for-profit health system.
The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) asked Performing Provider Systems (PPSs) from all over the state that chose Collaborative Care for their Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRIP) to nominate at least one of their clinics to participate in the Learning Network. Through a rigorous application process, 19 clinics were selected to participate. As a part of the Learning Network, these clinics will eventually be eligible to bill the monthly Medicaid case rate once they are trained and have the necessary staffing, infrastructure, and workflows in place to deliver effective Collaborative Care (CoCM).
In order to achieve these goals, OMH provided clinics with training, site visits, and access to tools that facilitate the implementation of Collaborative Care, including access to the AIMS Center’s Care Management Tracking System. While Collaborative Care training and support provided by OMH is only available to these clinics for one year, OMH hopes that creating a network of clinics learning together will facilitate the success of Collaborative Care for clinics beyond additional training support. As part of the Learning Network, clinics are encouraged to build relationships with the other clinics through communicating and learning from one another along the way. Individual clinics are matched with similarly structured clinics to form several training cohorts to better facilitate learning. An experienced coach works with each training cohort throughout the implementation process. Regular calls with the training cohort will keep clinics connected and provide the opportunity to receive additional training support, discuss challenges, and learn what the other sites are doing.
The AIMS Center, NYS OMH, Qualis Health, and, most importantly, the training cohorts will provide clinics with the support and tools needed to ensure a successful CoCM program implementation. We hope that each clinic’s care team will continue to communicate with the other members of the learning network after the close of the year and the discontinuation of services.
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.