The world of mental health assessment and screening tools can be very complicated for practitioners to navigate. Many tools, like the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7, simply screen for symptoms of one or two conditions, requiring the practitioner to predetermine the potential diagnosis and therefore creating bias from the start.
Other tools, like the SCID, are not dynamically responsive to patient answers and therefore require patients to respond to irrelevant questions, creating frustration and wasting valuable time. Use of the SCID can also be cost-prohibitive for many mental health practices.
The bottom line is that most of today’s mental health assessment solutions are flawed, and instead of helping to support an accurate diagnosis, they end up being an impediment to practitioners and patients.
Checklist: Eight things you should look for in your mental health assessment solution
To help providers evaluate which mental health assessment solutions and screening tools are ideal for their practice, we’ve outlined eight criteria that all providers should consider.
- Comprehensive: Instead of relying on multiple screening tools to try to pinpoint the most accurate diagnosis, it is important to evaluate the patient for all possible disorders in a single solution. Many mental health conditions present themselves very similarly. For example, bipolar patients can present as depressed patients, depending on where they are in their cycle when they are assessed. One-dimensional assessment tools, like the PHQ-9, would surely flag this patient as being depressed. If a physician prescribes treatment based on this single assessment, it would be highly inaccurate and likely lead to years of frustration and pain. Misdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of mental health disorders have been some of the biggest challenges facing the medical community for decades. nView solutions, including the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.), are comprehensive in nature and can accurately identify up to 25 conditions in pediatric patients and 19 disorders in adults – all from one solution.
- Accuracy: Accurately diagnosing someone with a mental health disorder can be challenging, as it is heavily dependent on self-reported patient data and symptom descriptions. If patients withhold information, whether consciously or unconsciously, it can dramatically impact the diagnosis. That’s why it is important to use assessment solutions that are designed to uncover the root cause of the disorder, not just report on the severity of the symptoms like the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 do. In contrast, the nView screening and assessment solutions have proven to support an accurate diagnosis 89% of the time, which is extremely high compared to other tools.
- Speed: Many assessment tools, such as the SCID, can take up to 90 minutes to complete. That’s primarily because they are “flat” in nature. This means that even though they are digital, they are essentially web-based versions of paper surveys. In contrast, the nView M.I.N.I. has smart algorithms under the hood to make the assessment dynamically responsive to patients’ answers. Better said, if patients’ answers do not flag them for a certain condition, the system will stop asking them those condition-specific questions. The result? The M.I.N.I. completion times are on average 17 minutes or less. The physician’s time is critical, given the fact that on average, patients have to wait at least 25 days for the first available appointment. Giving physicians more time to spend treating patients vs. assessing patients will help increase patient access to mental health services.
- DSM-5 compliant: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, (DSM-5) is the American Psychiatric Association’s authoritative guidance on classifying mental disorders to help improve diagnosis, treatment, and research. Most government and private payers require your clinical documentation to be compliant with DSM-5 criteria. Making sure mental health assessment solutions have been updated to meet the new standards is of utmost importance. All of nView’s digital health assessment solutions are DSM-5 compliant and have been for years.
- Digital: The safety and physical health of your staff and patients through the COVID crisis has led most practices to move to virtual visits. In fact, in a Fierce Healthcare report from October 2020, the demand for virtual mental health care is soaring. Creating a virtual patient experience cannot easily be accomplished with paper-based assessments. Moving to virtual care requires digital patient assessment tools, like those offered by nView.
- Reimbursable: For primary care physicians and other specialists, spending time with patients is at a premium. Making sure you can bill for mental health assessments is another important consideration as many providers are struggling to recover financially from the lack of elective procedures and patient encounters due to COVID. For nView digital screeners, which can be typically be administered up to four times per patient per year, physicians should use CPT code 96127. For the digital M.I.N.I. diagnostic interview, providers can use CPT code 90971. To calculate potential revenue from mental health assessments, providers can use this calculator tool.
- Clinically validated: The clinical and research community provides important validation for the accuracy and validity of behavioral health assessments. The nView M.I.N.I. has been used in patient care and clinical research for more than 25 years and cited in thousands of publications, clinical trials and studies around the world.
- Clinically validated: The clinical and research community provides important validation for the accuracy and validity of behavioral health assessments. The nView M.I.N.I. has been used in patient care and clinical research for more than 25 years and cited in thousands of publications, clinical trials, and studies around the world.