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Integrated mental and physical healthcare services lead to better outcomes, study finds

Source:  Health Policy Institute of Ohio

Patients receiving care in team-based practices that integrated mental and physical healthcare services had better clinical outcomes, lower total costs and used fewer healthcare services, according to a long-term study released this week (Source: “Study: Integrating Mental and Physical Healthcare Services Leads to Better Outcomes, Lower Costs,” Healthcare Informatics, Aug. 29, 2016).

Intermountain Healthcare researchers conducted a 10-year study on the impact of delivering integrated mental and physical healthcare in team-based primary care settings and found that an integrated mental healthcare model led to a higher rate of patients in team-based practices being screened for depression, which enabled care providers to provide medical and behavioral interventions earlier, compared to patients in traditional practices. As a result, 46 percent of patients in team-based practices were diagnosed with active depression compared to 24 percent in traditional practices.

The study also found that more patients in team-based practices adhered to diabetes care protocols, including regular blood glucose testing (24 percent compared to 19 percent in traditional practices). In addition, close to half (48 percent) of patients in team-based practices had a documented self-care plan to help them manage their health conditions, compared to 8 percent in traditional practices.

Researchers measured 113,452 adult patients who received care from 2003 through 2013 in 113 primary care practices at Intermountain, including 27 team-based medical practices and 75 traditional practices. The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“For patients, the bottom line of the study is that getting care in a team-based setting where medical providers work hand-in-hand with mental health professionals results in higher screening rates, more proactive treatment, and better clinical outcomes for complex chronic disease,” Intermountain Healthcare scientist Brenda Reiss-Brennan, PhD, APRN, one of the study's authors, said in a statement. “Team-based care means providers work together to care for all chronic conditions, mental and physical.”

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