Screening for Depression and Follow-up for Every Patient

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Standardizing the process for screening for depression is the right thing to do for our patients and our community

UH Clinical Update | January 2022

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS), as well as many other payers, recognize that undetected and untreated depression is an ongoing problem.

According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. However, data shows that at most, only 35% of adults aged 18 or older in the US with depression received any kind of treatment for a major depressive episode. Further, in the absence of systematic screening, it is estimated that only 50% of patients with major depression are identified. Unless directly asked about their mood, patients omit information about depressive symptoms for a variety of reasons.

Furthermore, unrecognized/untreated depression is associated with decreased quality of life, increased risk of suicide, and poor physiological outcomes when depression co-occurs with chronic medical conditions.

For example, a study showed positive impact for patients with depression and other conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In one year:

  • HbA1c improved by 0.81 when depression was treated versus 0.20 points when not
  • LDL cholesterol improved by 15 points compared with 8 points in non-treated individuals
  • Systolic BP improved by 4.7 points in patients being treated for depression, versus worsening by 0.3 points in the non-treated population.

In order to help you and your team to screen for depression and if positive to have a follow up plan we have created educational aides and Ambulatory EMR updates to streamline the workflow for you and your staff. See the job aid on the Digital Workplace for detailed information about the updates to this screening process.

Project ECHO is introducing a free 2022 Behavioral Health series for primary care providers, and offering CME credits for attending. This series is operated by Nationwide Children’s Hospital and focuses specifically on pediatric behavioral health, but is open to any provider interested in learning more. Sessions include presentations on depression, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, and more. Click here to see more information on the schedule for 2022, details on CME credit, and to register.

We thank you for your efforts in aligning around this important goal.

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