Rates of Follow-up After a Diagnosis of Depression Show Substantial Room for Improvement

MNCM releases its Depression Care in Minnesota: Adults and Adolescents report

2020 Depression Report Graphic

MN Community Measurement, an independent nonprofit organization that empowers health care decision makers with meaningful data to drive improvement, has released a new report on outcomes for treatment of depression in Minnesota.

The Depression Care in Minnesota: Adults and Adolescents report includes new measures of depression outcomes for adolescents, as well as updated data for adults. An appendix to the report includes detailed quality information for 112 medical groups and 734 clinics in Minnesota and neighboring states.

The data in the report were collected in early 2020, and reflect care received in 2019. Measures of depression care include how often patients who are diagnosed with depression receive follow-up care, the percentage of patients who show improvement (response to treatment), and the percentage of patients whose depression is in remission. Because of technical changes to the measure, the depression outcomes measures included in this report are not comparable to prior years.

Depression is a very common condition that has historically been underdiagnosed and undertreated. Nationally, about 15.7 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 and 7.8 percent of adults had a major depressive episode in 2019.

“Because depression has such a big impact on people’s lives, it’s important to understand how well our health care system is doing at helping people get better,” said Julie Sonier, MN Community Measurement President and CEO. “We still see wide variation in outcomes, and substantial room for overall improvement. That’s particularly important now, as we know many more people are experiencing symptoms of depression in today’s extraordinary circumstances.”

Recent federal survey data suggest that as many as 25 percent of American adults were experiencing symptoms of depression in mid-2020, compared to about 7 percent in 2019.

Here are some report highlights:

• For both adolescents and adults, rates of follow-up after a diagnosis of depression show substantial room for improvement. For example, only 48.5 percent of adults and 43.4 percent of adolescents were re-assessed after six months.

• Average rates of depression response and remission are low but some health care providers achieve results that are well above expected rates after accounting for differences in the characteristics of their patient populations. As an example, 19.4 percent of adults and 15.5 percent of adolescents showed improvement (response) after six months. Medical groups with the highest risk-adjusted performance on this measure achieved rates that were 1.78 times expected results for adults (Westfields Hospital and Clinic) and 1.84 times the expected rate for adolescents (Mankato Clinic, Ltd.).

• Use of screening tools and standardized tools for diagnosing depression is high. Nearly 90 percent of adolescents who had well-child visits in 2019 were screened for mental health and/or depression, and nearly 80 percent of adults and adolescents who were diagnosed with depression completed a standardized tool as part of their diagnosis.

Importance of Measurement

Measuring and reporting on health care quality is important because it helps consumers know how care varies across providers, and it helps providers to understand how their results compare to others and where their biggest improvement opportunities are. Measuring and reporting also help health plans and other purchasers better understand and improve value for money that is spent on health care.

“Minnesota is really unique in the nation in the capabilities we’ve built to measure and report on health care outcomes,” said Sonier. “The measures we track are important tools for getting better health outcomes. There continues to be wide variation in outcomes for depression care, which shows that there is still a lot of opportunity for improvement.”

Depression Care Resources

The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Minnesota has various resources for mental health support. Visit https://namimn.org/support/resources/ to learn more.

For suicide prevention, awareness and support, visit https://namimn.org/education-public-awareness/suicide-prevention/ or call 1-800-273-8255.