Evaluation and Treatment of Depression in Managed Care (Part II): Quality Improvement Programs
Christy L. Beaudin
Teresa L. Kramer
Depression is under-detected, but is treatable and relapses can be prevented. Living with depression, whether acute or chronic, has consequences for quality of life, premature end of life, and productive life. Thoughtful and strategic quality improvement (QI) programs offer one avenue for improving the treatment of depression. Part I of this two-part series addresses improving the treatment of depression and employing disease management as a strategy to accomplish that aim. This article, part II, provides an overview of other QI initiatives that demonstrated treatment effectiveness for depression, including several used in managed care practice. Currently, the majority of QI programs for depression target adult patients; therefore, there are future challenges ahead as managed care attempts to address the needs of special populations, such as adolescents and older adults. Public education, professional education, and population-based interventions are also considerations as part of successful treatment. Although consumer-based interventions are typically more expensive, they may ultimately yield the best results for improving depression care for the consumer and payors based on available research. The success of a consumer-centric approach is highly reliant on the person's engagement with QI programs, the treating clinician's appreciation and support of such depression programs, and managed care's response to solving quality problems using continuous monitoring, evaluation, feedback, system enhancements, and training. Models of collaboration between consumers and medical and behavioral health systems offer the most promising approaches to care improvements for patients with depression.
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