Intermountain Healthcare recognized for outstanding mental health screening process

Image courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Hearst Health and the Jefferson College of Population Health of Thomas Jefferson University have announced that Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare is the winner of the 2017 Hearst Health Prize.

Intermountain was awarded the prize for its mental health integration program, which embeds mental health screening and treatment within primary care and select specialty practices. The Hearst Health Prize is an annual $100,000 award given in recognition of an organization’s or individual’s outstanding achievement in managing or improving health in the U.S.

“The caregivers at Intermountain are grateful to receive this recognition and award,” Intermountain president and CEO Marc Harrison, MD. said. “It honors our commitment to our patients, their families and the communities we serve. It honors our caregivers with whom our patients trust to provide the highest quality, effective and affordable care.”

Intermountain created a mental health integration program for patients that made mental health evaluation and service part of the routine care for patients at Intermountain, with an emphasis on primary care. It utilizes a team-based approach, built upon systematic, evidence-based medicine that is collaborative and measurable, to help patients and their families manage the complexity of both mental and physical health.

More than 100,000 patients were tracked over a 10-year period to observe their outcomes and interactions. Findings of the study included:

  • At Intermountain Healthcare, 46 percent of patients in team-based practices were screened for active depression, more than ten times greater than that of traditional physician practices nationally, according to some studies.
  • More patients adhered to diabetes care protocols and had documented self-care plans.
  • For individuals receiving care through the mental health integration program, emergency room visits dropped 23 percent, hospital admissions declined 10 percent and primary care doctor visits declined 7 percent.

With these improvements, the overall cost of care for patients with active depression dropped by more than three percent. Based on Intermountain Healthcare’s experience, they project at least $4 billion in annual U.S. healthcare savings if its mental health integration model were to be used nationally.

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