With the growing prevalence of chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and other symptom-based conditions, doctors are increasingly considering how to augment the care they can provide within the limited time allotted for patient appointments.
In a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers suggest collaborative care can and should play a major role in targeting the treatment of symptoms and functional decline.
The study is from Regenstrief Institute in the U.S. One author is Research Scientist Kurt Kroenke, M.D.
Collaborative care is a team-based model in which the patient’s primary care physician is assisted in the management of specific health conditions (for example depression, anxiety or pain) by a care manager (often a nurse supervised by a physician specialist) with advanced expertise in the management of those conditions who provide care virtually.
Care managers help patients process information provided by their primary care physicians. For example, care managers can review treatment options, helping patients decide which option they prefer.
In the study, the researchers extensively used utilizing collaborative care to provide behavioral treatments, education and care follow-up to patients with depression, anxiety and pain and they found that it works.
Collaborative care works because it provides patients with needed support between physician visits, augmenting medical practice via telephone or another telecare modality, making it easy for patients to fit into their schedules.
Collaborative care is becoming more common. The team is currently exploring the use of collaborative care for substance abuse disorders.
They say perhaps the major reason that collaborative care hasn’t gained traction outside of some large, integrated healthcare systems with multiple clinics, is because insurance companies typically have not covered augmenting physician care via telephone.
But this barrier has eroded during the pandemic as telecare has been reimbursed by Medicare as well as insurance companies.
And expanded use of telecare during the pandemic has also taught us to deliver virtual care more effectively and efficiently.
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