Featured Practice: Mercy Community Healthcare – Increasing Depression Screenings

Our MidSouth PTN practices know that comprehensive primary care must include behavioral and mental healthcare in order to meet a patient’s full health and healthcare needs. This week’s featured practice is Mercy Community Healthcare, who has worked to improve depression screenings and access to care

Mercy is a federally qualified community health center and certified patient centered medical home. This safety net practice has been operating in Franklin, TN since 1999, when it originally opened with a mission to serve uninsured children. In the 20 years since, Mercy has expanded to provide care to approximately 10,000 adults and children, insured and uninsured, with the same mission of providing full person, high quality, respectful care.

Mercy had begun offering psychiatric and behavioral health services prior to TCPI, but struggled to adequately capture data and incorporate it through the workflow and team processes. The practice has incorporated multiple quality improvement changes. First, patients are provided an annual visit sheet at check in that provides a roadmap of what to expect during the visit, including a depression screening. Second, important changes were made to the workflow. Providers were not receiving the screening outcomes until the appointment was over, so they were unable to provide the patient with information and resources at the same visit. Nursing staff and medical assistants were trained to administer the screening and deliver documentation to the provider for discussion with patients in real time. This simple process change is more convenient for all and saves everyone time. Finally, depression notes were added to the daily morning huddles so the entire care team is aware of patients who need to receive screenings each day.

TCPI encouraged changes at these key intervention points and assisted Mercy in incorporating staff training on the importance of annual screenings. After streamlining these processes, Mercy has successfully increased annual screenings from 20% to 50%. You can read here for more information about Mercy Community Healthcare’s transformation journey.

These changes are helping the practice better serve patients’ diverse health needs. Behavioral health integration can be intimidating, but there are small steps a practice can take to continuously move toward providing whole patient care. For more information and additional stories from the field, check out “Integration that Sticks: Part 1 and Part 2” of the MidSouth PTN “Best Practices” podcast

The views expressed in this story are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Community Healthcare.Additionally, this work was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, under grant number 1CMS331549-03-00. The contents provided are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS or any of its agencies.