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Why Your Practice Should Care About Depression Screenings

Depression is a serious mental condition that also is one of the most common, affecting over 17 million adults in the US in 2017 (and an estimated 40 million people of all ages) [1]. Depression broadly encompasses disorders like Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders (including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder and suicide) according to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Sadly, this means that many of the patients that you see in your practice are suffering from depression. With National Depression Screening Day approaching this year on October 10th, it is critical to take time to reflect on why it is important to catch the early warning signs of depression. Although many of you are not mental health professionals, you should still do routine depression screenings on your patients!

Depression Screening

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening both the general adult population and adolescent children (age 12+) for depression. This screening process should also include referrals and routine follow-up, as needed. Many sufferers have a hard time reaching out for help because of the negative social stigmas associated with depression, so these screenings can be an important first step to get your patients the help that they need.

According to AJ Traboulsi, Vice President of Connecticut Behavioral Health Associates, screening for depression is good for the patient, the practice and the overall community. Your practice can also help to de-stigmatize depression by talking about it with your patients regularly. Implementing a screening questionnaire during the check-in process is a great way to bring up mental health, check in with your patients and build a trusting relationship where they can talk about their struggles.

So where do you begin?

And if you are already doing some sort of screening, how can you improve? It can be difficult to know how to do so in an efficient manner – after all, you do not want this to impede your check-in process, create too much additional paperwork for the front desk, or drastically slow down your appointments.

Luckily, there are simple workflow adjustments and technological additions that can make depression screening a reality in your medical practice – plus, they can make you eligible for MIPS Measure #134 for Preventative Care and Screenings and even payments using the new CPT Code 96146 [2].

Learn more about how to implement depression screenings and what benefits to expect in your practice!

[1] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml
[2] http://healthmonix.com/mips_quality_measure/2019-mips-quality-measure-134/

 

 

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