Pediatricians can be a vital asset to new mothers when it comes to identifying mental health problems and connecting them to treatment, according to a new report. As many as one in five new mothers experience mental health challenges that impact their ability to care for their children, according to a report released this week by the Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI) of Connecticut. More of these instances would be diagnosed and treated if more pediatricians screened mothers at well-baby visits, the report states. Doing so represents a culture shift among pediatricians, said Lisa Honigfeld, CHDI vice president of health initiatives. “It’s a new way to look at child health services,” she said, but a worthwhile one.
The use of nationally certified medical homes to coordinate the care of Connecticut’s Medicaid patients has led to improved quality, a 2 percent cut in per person costs, and a 32 percent increase in the number of participating providers during an 18-month period. The news comes as the state moves forward with plans to jumpstart the medical home movement in Connecticut with an expanded “Glide Path” program that would assist all practices – not just those that accept Medicaid patients – working to become medical homes. The program, still under development, would require practices to meet national standards. The state initiative has shed light on the challenges facing Connecticut’s medical homes, including the costs of implementing an electronic medical record and care coordination strategies. Experts say medical homes can improve quality, cut costs and reduce health inequities among all patients, not only those in the state’s Medicaid program.
Forty-five percent of Connecticut adults in a survey released Wednesday reported that they have been diagnosed with a chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease or cancer. That rate was “very high,” said Frances Padilla, president of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. She said she was also struck that 28 percent of adults aged 18 to 44 reported in the new Connecticut Health Care Survey that they have one of those serious illnesses. “With so many people reporting chronic illnesses and their complications, we have to have better access to care,’’ she said. Six health foundations released the results of a telephone survey of 5,447 adults conducted between June 2012 and February 2013.
Selenia Velez remembers the near-daily phone calls from the pre-school, alerting her that her 2-year-old son had acted out aggressively and needed to be picked up immediately. The calls went on for months, as Velez, 27, of Hartford, and her husband bounced between the pre-school and their son’s pediatrician, who recommended that they take him to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. But the psychiatrist was booked and held them at bay, as Velez watched her son’s behavior deteriorate. “We just felt hopeless,” the mother of four recalls of her oldest son, now 7. “It was one of the most heartbreaking things you can go through as a mother.
A pilot project to provide coordinated care to children insured by Medicaid resulted in more Connecticut children receiving preventive dental services, mental health care and well-child visits, according to a new report by the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, Inc.
“Care coordination is especially important for children, as they benefit most when their needs are detected early and they receive intervention services,” the report says. “The primary care medical home is an ideal venue for detecting children’s problems at the earliest possible age and connecting families to helpful interventions and supports outside of the primary care site.”
The evaluation of the “Health Outreach for Medical Equality” project, dubbed “H.O.M.E.,” found that adding care coordinators to work with low-income children in the HUSKY insurance program boosted the percentage of Hartford children ages 2 and younger using dental services – 34 percent for those who received care coordination, vs. 25 percent of Hartford children overall. In addition, children who received H.O.M.E. services accessed behavioral and mental health services at a significantly higher rate than the overall Hartford HUSKY population. The increased access to dental and mental health care “pays off tremendously in the long run,” in terms of both health outcomes and cost savings, as problems are addressed earlier, said Lisa Honigfeld, vice president for health initiatives at the Child Health and Development Institute.