SIM provider recognizes value of integrated care

This story, submitted by a SIM-funded practice facilitator, illustrates the value of delivering and receiving integrated care: In June, I saw a middle-aged male patient for evaluation of a cyst near his eye. Prior to the exam, the practice's medical assistant pointed out that his depression screening (PHQ) scores were high so we discussed depression symptoms and the patient told me that he'd been depressed for years and that his symptoms had worsened recently. He was resistant to counseling but agreed to start medication. The patient came in for a follow-up and was so thankful that the practice screens patients for depression. He thanked me repeatedly during our visit and said he would never have brought this up without being prompted. This patient told me that he has never felt better and regretted waiting this long to get help. He shared that several of his close friends had died by suicide in the past few years and wondered if discussion about depression could have prevented this.
 
I am the first to admit that I am not perfect about looking at PHQ scores on every patient. I know that many times, patients express their dislike for filling out the PHQ form and give the medical assistants and nurses a hard time about this. As a provider, I will also admit that it can be frustrating when a 15-minute appointment turns into a 30+ minutes when these unexpected issues come up. Today's appointment with this patient helped to validate how important it is to treat the whole patient and how rewarding it can be.