In the past when patients presented with depression or other mental health concerns, I would try to determine the seriousness of their symptoms and uncover factors related to their mental state. I’d then make a diagnosis and determine a therapeutic approach that might include referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other local mental health program, though these resources often weren’t available or affordable. Without effective tools or adequate time to help these patients, I often prescribed medications. These limitations, along with inadequate remuneration for the time and effort required to deliver the quality care needed, made this important part of my clinical practice extremely frustrating.
New fee codes & treatment options have improved my patient care
By incorporating the GPSC-supported Mental Health incentives and the Practice Support Program (PSP) Mental Health learning module tools and resources into my practice, I am now able to spend more time interacting with these patients and have more resources to support my care.
Incentives for the development of a mental health care plan (GP Mental Health Planning fee 14043), extra counseling visits (GP Mental Health Management fees 14044, 14045, 14046, 14047, and 14048), supportive telephone/e-mail patient contact (14079), and conferencing fees (Attachment Patient Conferencing fee 14077 or Community Patient Conferencing fee 14016) have allowed me to be better compensated for spending more time caring for my patients with significant mental health conditions.
Some of these incentives specifically support coordinated care within my community:
- The community conferencing fee (14016) encourages me to share care of my patients with more complex needs with a psychiatrist or other mental health care professional.
- With a billed mental health care plan, the telephone follow-up fee (14079) can also compensate time spent in support of these patients by phone.
Also, by attending the PSP Mental Health module, I learned about new tools to help me better assess and more confidently treat these patients. To support my care, I often resort to readily available non-medication treatment options such as the Bounce Back Program, Anti-depressant Skills Workbook, as well as the Cognitive Behavioural Interpersonal Skills Manual, and the Family Physician Guide, which I learned to apply in the PSP Mental Health module.
My practice satisfaction and success with these patients have increased significantly. I now look forward to caring for my mentally distressed patients, knowing that I have more to offer them and will be better compensated for the time required to properly assess and treat them. My patient relationships have become more rewarding and I’m more excited about my medical practice.
—Dr Bob Bluman,
Family physician and Assistant Dean, UBC Continuing Professional Development