TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is trying a new software program that’s led to better physical health for Missouri residents with mental illnesses.
The Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas received a $40,000 grant to begin using the software program with Medicaid-eligible patients who receive mental health care. Eight community mental health centers are participating in the pilot.
The Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare said most people with mental illnesses don’t die by suicide, but from conditions like diabetes or heart disease, The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1uAQJyA ) reported. The group has worked with Care Management Technologies for almost three years now, using their software for a systemwide view of how well health care workers are serving clients and determining which patients need help managing chronic conditions.
Brent McGinty, president and CEO of the Missouri organization, said looking at mental and physical health together has led to a decline in average blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol in patients. He said clients who are making changes in their diet and exercise are reporting improvements in their mental health.
“It’s become a part of their recovery,” he said. “You’ve got to treat the whole body, the whole person.”
CEO Carol Clayton of Care Management Technologies said heart disease, asthma and other lung diseases, hypertension, diabetes and gastroesophageal reflux disease are estimated to affect 60 to 70 percent of people with several mental health conditions. She said the program allows health systems to see data from a high-level perspective on how many patients have a specific condition or what kind of treatment they received.
Having additional data about patients will help health care workers make better recommendations for their treatment, said spokeswoman Pam Evans for Family Service & Guidance Center, which is one of the participating centers in Kansas.
“It’s going to help us to serve our clients who are in need quicker and more efficiently,” she said. “It gives us a better view of the big picture.”
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