Minnesota, Mayo Clinic join to advise primary care doctors on pediatric mental health

June 4th, 2012
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has entered into a two-year contract with Mayo Clinic to provide expert guidance to pediatricians and other primary care providers who prescribe psychotropic medications for children. The new service is referred to as "collaborative psychiatric consultation" and is based on pilot projects that improved care and saved money.

A two-year, $1.7 million state and federal investment in the program is expected to be fully offset by reduced costs for inpatient hospitalizations and medications in the state Medical Assistance program. While all Minnesota physicians will be encouraged to use the service, it will be required for Medical Assistance fee-for-service payment for certain psychotropic medications for children.

"We are pleased to join with Mayo Clinic to provide better mental health care to all Minnesota children, especially children served by the Medical Assistance program," says Lucinda Jesson, Human Services commissioner. "This new psychiatric consultation service holds the promise of improved access and quality of care as well as greater efficiency so resources can be focused on appropriate treatment."

"For the first time in the state's history, this new program will enable child psychiatrists and social workers across leading health care systems to function as an integrated team," says Peter Jensen, M.D., a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist. "We're truly working together to help Minnesota's primary care physicians deliver quality health care to their children with mental health needs."

The new service will also expand the capacity and strengthen the system of oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medication use among children in foster care; they are up to five times more likely to be on a psychotropic medication than other children on Medical Assistance, a concern in Minnesota and nationally.

Mayo Clinic will partner with other health systems to ensure the new service is available statewide.

Beginning in August, Mayo Clinic and its partners will operate a call center Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A licensed social worker will answer calls and determine the most appropriate response. For example, when possible, callers will be connected with existing services in the caller's home community. If necessary, calls will be routed to on-call psychiatrists with qualifications specific to the request.

While developing this service, DHS gathered advice from pediatricians, family practice physicians, nurses, mental health professionals, families, advocates, school staff and others who care for children with mental health needs. The contract with Mayo Clinic incorporates many of the suggestions that DHS received.

The goals of this new service are to:
  • Improve the quality of mental health treatment by encouraging the use of evidence-based treatments in addition to or in place of medication where appropriate.
  • Improve access and quality of care by making more efficient use of both primary care and specialty mental health services.
  • Improve collaboration between primary care and behavioral health services.

Provided by Mayo Clinic

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