Systems for physical health care for mental health patients in the community: different approaches to improve patient care and safety in an Early Intervention in Psychosis Service
- Correspondence to Josie Mouko
- Received 6 September 2016
- Revision requested 18 October 2016
- Revised 11 November 2016
- Published 20 March 2017
Patients with mental illnesses have a high rate of physical comorbidity, and specifically, those with psychosis are at an increased risk of cardiometabolic disease and shortened lifespans, due to medication, lifestyle and illness factors. There are recognised challenges with physical health care in this group.
At baseline, no patients on the Bath and North East Somerset Early Intervention in Psychosis caseload had a fully completed physical health assessment. Our aim was to offer a physical health check, blood tests, and ECG for all patients, trialling four phases of interventions. The four phases were (1) increased awareness, education and data collection tools; (2) mobile physical health clinics; (3) letters sent to patients and GPs to request health checks be conducted, (4) a combination of the above approaches, as well as regular caseload reviews and prompts to professionals. At the time of our study (2015-16), many of the above parameters were also incentivised nationally by Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) payments. The mobile physical health clinic offered patient choice of home visits or clinic checks, to increase engagement and provide flexible care.
The most successful approach overall was the combination approach, resulting in 48% of all patients having fully completed physical health checks, bloods and ECGs. The mobile clinic resulted in physical health checks completion rates of 60%, and blood tests in 65-70%. 92% of patients undertook ECG's, following letter requests to GPs and patients.
Combining mobile physical health clinics, GP letters, financial incentives and managerial engagement produced much improved results, but was very time consuming, and in our case was inefficient due to using multiple professionals. We recommend embedding such approaches within the team, using sustainable systems, and would encourage teams to trial dedicated trained clinicians to establish sustainable systems to improve the physical health care of this vulnerable group.
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