Exemplars in the use of technology for management of depression in primary care

WMJ. 2012 Jun;111(3):112-8.


Purpose: Depression care management as part of larger efforts to integrate behavioral health care into primary care has been shown to be effective in helping patients and primary care clinicians achieve improved outcomes within the primary care environment. Central to care management systems is the use of registries which enable effective clinic population management. The aim of this article is to detail the methods and utility of technology in depression care management processes while also highlighting the real-world variations and barriers that exist in different clinical environments, namely a federally qualified health center and a Veterans Administration clinic.

Methods: We analyzed descriptive data from the registries of Access Community Health Centers and the William S. Middleton Veterans Administration clinics along with historical reviews of their respective care management processes.

Results: Both registry reviews showed trend data indicating improvement in scores of depression and provided baseline data on important system variables, such as the number of patients who are not making progress, the percentage of patients who are unreachable by phone, and the kind of actions needed to ensure evidence-based and efficient care. Both sites also highlighted systemic technical barriers to more complete implementation of care management processes.

Conclusions: Care management processes are an effective and efficient part of population-based care for depression in primary care. Implementation depends on available resources including hardware, software, and clinical personnel. Additionally, care management processes and technology have evolved over time based on local needs and are part of an integrated method to support the work of primary care clinicians in providing care for patients with depression.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / organization & administration*
  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Data Mining
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Disease Management
  • Electronic Health Records / instrumentation
  • Electronic Health Records / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Registries*
  • Veterans
  • Wisconsin