It’s no surprise that patients will often defer or deflect from certain topics while talking with their primary care physician. This is usually because they are embarrassed or because they don’t perceive their symptoms as serious enough to bring up despite their taking a toll on their daily lives and activities.
Additionally, because of the state of our US healthcare system, doctors are even more hurried to see patients as quickly as possible and are not often able to get to the root of a psychological problem like depression. Use of depression screening questions administered strategically can help physicians diagnose depression.
Studies have found that patients may be more honest with a computer than a real person, especially their doctor. This may be potentially due to response bias, giving answers they expect the doctor wants to hear. While doctors or other members of the healthcare team may be able to differentiate a true answer with one that is being given under false pretenses, screening with computerized support via medical algorithms may be superior in some cases.
Depression Screening at Home
Screening at home prior to the appointment may help alleviate some of the stress or anxiety of giving all symptoms to the doctor off the bat and can allow targeted discussion towards the problems/symptoms a patient is having. Completing the available questionnaires on their own time and in an unhurried way may also improve reporting and thus lead to a diagnosis and treatment plan quicker.
Doctors and other members of the healthcare team can send questionnaires to patients in the days leading up to their appointments and encourage completion with automated text or email reminders. The responses can be received by the doctor and incorporated into the electronic medical record (EMR) and consultation with ease.
Medical Algorithms for Screening Psychiatric Conditions
Examples of psychiatric screening algorithms from The Medical Algorithms Company include:
- Determine if a patient is showing evidence of the demoralization syndrome (DS)
- Identify the acute stress disorder occurring shortly after a traumatic event with a real or perceived threat
- Evaluate a person for anxiety and depression using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) Scale
Depression is often associated with chronic illnesses. It is important to screen these patients and offer support through pharmacotherapy and non-pharmacotherapy options. Screening patients with certain chronic illnesses before they come in for an appointment can be a simple solution to the time crunch while in-office.
Screening for psychological disorders, like depression or anxiety, is extremely important in order to care for patients as a whole without missing potential threats to their health and well-being. Using medical algorithms prior to the point of care can assist physician offices and telemedicine-based visits by obtaining information prior to the appointment, thus saving time and potentially improving the plan of care.