Novant Health screens every patient for depression — here's why

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health is working to improve depression diagnosis and treatment via a new initiative in which physicians regularly screen all patients for depression during visits.  

Through the initiative, physicians ask patients about how often they've been in a depressed mood over the past two weeks as part of the routine patient health questionnaire. Based on this response, physicians may continue the depression screening with a series of nine additional questions and recommend treatments, as appropriate.

"Screening every patient, no matter the reason for their visit, will identify those who need help and get them the resources they need," Derek Ayers, DO, a psychiatrist at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, said in a press release. "A majority of people who go to the doctor and leave with a referral originally come in for something completely unrelated to depression."

In 2018, Novant Health screened about 1 million patients for depression and referred about 70,000 for treatment. The health system aims to screen about 4.5 million patients by January 2020.

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