Saving Money with Managed Care

A study published in July 2009 finds that employees on leave for mental illness return to work sooner when family doctor works with mental health professional…something we’ve been helping our clients realize for years.

Here are the details:

Individuals who are on short-term disability leave due to mental illness may return to work sooner when their family doctor actively partners with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional, according to a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

When family physicians work collaboratively with specialists, the result seems to benefit both the employee and the employer, says study author Dr. Carolyn Dewa, Program Head for CAMH’s Work and Well-being Research and Evaluation Program at CAMH. Individuals on short-term disability are more likely to avoid transitioning to long-term disability, and to have a shorter disability leave, while employers see a cost savings in disability payments.

Estimates show that about ten percent of the working population is diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness each year. In Canada, this represents about $17 billion in productivity losses to the economy.

Collaborative care

The demonstration project led by Dewa is the first study ever to evaluate the effect of partnering family physicians with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional when treating patients on short-term disability leave due to a mental health problem.

“One of the barriers to effective mental health treatment is the fragmentation that often exists between different types of health care providers,” says Dewa. “When people are in distress it is appropriate to go to their family doctor. Family physicians may refer their patients to specialists, but they are not necessarily partnering with the mental health professional. The result can be fragmentation of care. We wanted to see if a collaborative-care model could make a difference,” she says.

The demonstration study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, looked at employees on short-term disability leave over one year. Dewa and her team compared standard care – delivered by a single family physician who does not stay in active collaboration with the specialists – to a teamwork model that emphasizes availability of specialty mental health resources, increased communication between family doctors and mental health professionals, and follow-up care.

The Ontario government stressed the importance of collaborative care in its recently announced mental health strategy.

Cost savings to employers

Study participants receiving collaborative care returned to work at higher rates than those treated by a family physician alone, the study found. The average cost savings to employers was an average of $503 per patient.

“Our findings demonstrate that partnering or collaborative care is more cost-effective, increasing the amount of people who are able to return to work while decreasing the number of people transitioning to long-term disability. The cost of metal illness is a large burden on the economy, but if we are able to find new ways to work together, we can provide better care and decrease these losses,” says Dewa.

Eighty-five percent of participants treated in a collaborative-care team were able to return to work, compared to 63% who received standard care. Just 7% of those receiving collaborative care transitioned to long-term disability, compared to 31% treated by family physicians alone.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development, prevention and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. Individuals who are on short-term disability leave due to mental illness may return to work sooner when their family doctor actively partners with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional, according to a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

When family physicians work collaboratively with specialists, the result seems to benefit both the employee and the employer, says study author Dr. Carolyn Dewa, Program Head for CAMH’s Work and Well-being Research and Evaluation Program at CAMH. Individuals on short-term disability are more likely to avoid transitioning to long-term disability, and to have a shorter disability leave, while employers see a cost savings in disability payments.

Estimates show that about ten percent of the working population is diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness each year. In Canada, this represents about $17 billion in productivity losses to the economy.

Collaborative care

The demonstration project led by Dewa is the first study ever to evaluate the effect of partnering family physicians with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional when treating patients on short-term disability leave due to a mental health problem.

“One of the barriers to effective mental health treatment is the fragmentation that often exists between different types of health care providers,” says Dewa. “When people are in distress it is appropriate to go to their family doctor. Family physicians may refer their patients to specialists, but they are not necessarily partnering with the mental health professional. The result can be fragmentation of care. We wanted to see if a collaborative-care model could make a difference,” she says.

The demonstration study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, looked at employees on short-term disability leave over one year. Dewa and her team compared standard care – delivered by a single family physician who does not stay in active collaboration with the specialists – to a teamwork model that emphasizes availability of specialty mental health resources, increased communication between family doctors and mental health professionals, and follow-up care.

The Ontario government stressed the importance of collaborative care in its recently announced mental health strategy.

Cost savings to employers

Study participants receiving collaborative care returned to work at higher rates than those treated by a family physician alone, the study found. The average cost savings to employers was an average of $503 per patient.

“Our findings demonstrate that partnering or collaborative care is more cost-effective, increasing the amount of people who are able to return to work while decreasing the number of people transitioning to long-term disability. The cost of metal illness is a large burden on the economy, but if we are able to find new ways to work together, we can provide better care and decrease these losses,” says Dewa.

Eighty-five percent of participants treated in a collaborative-care team were able to return to work, compared to 63% who received standard care. Just 7% of those receiving collaborative care transitioned to long-term disability, compared to 31% treated by family physicians alone.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development, prevention and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

Posted by Ian Holtz

Sales Executive

ipholtz@minesandassociates.com

(303) 953-4083

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