Team Care more Cost-Effective than Usual Treatment

The depressive patient benefits, so
does the clinical finance department
© Picture Disk

The team care approach, called IMPACT (Improving Mood – Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment for Late Life Depression), features a nurse, social worker or psychologist serving as a depression care manager who works with the primary care physician and a consulting psychiatrist to care for depressed patients in primary care clinics.

"For the same price as usual care, the IMPACT model provided an additional 107 depression-free days, a whole 'season of light,'" said Dr. Wayne Katon, professor and vice-chair of psychiatry and lead author of the cost effectiveness study. "We found that health benefits persist even a year after completion of the IMPACT program, and our cost data suggest that there is potential for long-term cost savings."

"The research also showed that in specific subgroups of patients, such as the nearly 25 percent of study participants with diabetes, there were even greater clinical benefits and more medical cost savings," said Dr. Jürgen Unützer, professor and vice chair of psychiatry at the UW and director of the IMPACT Coordinating Center.

The cost of using the IMPACT model of depression care treatment is only about $580 per year for each patient – a modest investment compared to the total medical costs of about $8,000 per year for an older adult with depression.

According to the cost-effectiveness study, the costs of providing IMPACT care were offset by health care cost savings in the year following the program, suggesting potential long-term cost savings. The cost-effectiveness of the IMPACT model is better than the cost-effectiveness of several other commonly used medical treatments, such as hypertension screening and treatment, statin use, or coronary artery bypass surgery, say the authors.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Washington