Tools help doctors integrate mental health into patient care

Patients who go to the doctor for a routine appointment generally get the care they came for, but the physician doesn’t always consider the patient’s mental health status.

Patients who go to the doctor for a routine appointment generally get the care they came for, but the physician doesn't always consider the patient’s mental health status.

With tools at many physicians’ disposal such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and workflow software, a clinician can use analytics to integrate mental wellness into the appointment, says Chris Molaro, CEO at NeuroFlow, which offers a mental health analytics platform that works with the electronic health record of the practice.

NeuroFlow recently teamed with Genomind, which delivers genetic testing tools to help clinicians make more informed treatment decisions and create better outcomes for patients with mental illness.

Physicians will be able to use Genomind’s service to help understand patients’ genetics and how they may impact mental health, and they can use NeuroFlow’s technology to remotely monitor and track adherence and progress across an entire patient journey.

“The enhanced model of care brought by this collaboration provides insights into the clinical evaluation of my patients, enabling me to better understand their individual needs so I can provide enhanced personalized care,” says Stephanie King, DNP, owner of the Center for Holistic and Integrative Mental Health in Athens, Pa.

Combining analytics and genomic tools, a provider can-stratify higher-risk patients and send risk profiles to the EHRs of other clinicians a patient may be seeing.

If a patient is visiting their primary care physician and has blood pressure as high as it was in the last visit, it’s time for the physician to have a talk with the patient on the need to make lifestyle changes, Molaro says.

Physicians may want to consider giving mobile apps to patients struggling to maintain wellness between appointments so the patients can measure where they are succeeding and where they still have problems, such as overeating, and send the data to the physician.

“The biggest hurdle is patients with underlying behavioral health conditions who become higher utilizers of the health system,” Molaro explains. “Most emergency room visits, for example, have at least one behavioral health issue.”

Ironically, physicians themselves can be resistant to addressing behavioral health issues because of the additional work it brings to a visit or liability concerns because they are not a specialist so they worry about how far they can go in addressing behavioral health.

Molaro has found that adding behavioral health to a visit can be a daunting task because it often requires additional documentation.“But we have to treat the whole patient including mental health,” he asserts. "Doing this leads to better outcomes and overall costs. That’s what behavioral health information is all about.”

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