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Keywords

Behavioral health, Integrated care, Digital screening, Technology, Rural primary care

 

Authors

  1. Chang, Yu-Ping PhD, RN, FGSA, FIAAN, FAAN
  2. Casucci, Sabrina PhD, MBA
  3. Roma, Nicole MPH
  4. Dermen, Kurt PhD
  5. Barrick, Christopher PhD

Abstract

Integrating behavioral health into primary care can increase patient access to treatments for behavioral health disorders, especially in rural areas. The first step of integrated care implementations is the need to identify at-risk patients and effectively communicate patient screening results to the care team. The use of technology can facilitate patient screening and incorporate screening data into electronic health records. This paper describes the development of a tablet-based screening system to facilitate behavioral health integration in a rural primary care clinic, discusses the preliminary impact of digital screening on workflows, and provides recommendations for the use of technology for screening. A tablet-based assessment was developed to screen patients for behavioral health concerns and was implemented within a rural primary care clinic. The system was created using the Visual Signature Capture system, which integrates directly with the electronic health record. Following the initial assessment, patients are screened as frequently as every 30 days with a mini-screen assessment, consisting of multiple screening tools for mental health and substance use. The tablet-based screening system had a positive impact on clinician workflows and the overall effectiveness of clinic operations. This system supports providers in addressing the behavioral health needs of patients that often go unrecognized in primary care.