Q. What is MH Connext?
MH Connext is a new care management program available for people with severe and complex mental illness, whose needs are predominately being managed in primary care. The program will start on July 17, 2017, and has been commissioned by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) as part of a range of changes to the way we treat mental illness in primary care in Western Australia. It is intended as a short-term support service that assists to establish the right services for vulnerable patients, as opposed to a longer-term intervention.
Q. What is care management?
Care management is a way of supporting the high-level needs of patients, by providing a consistent point of contact and connections to other support services. Once a patient is referred to the program, a regular care manager will keep the patient well informed, motivated and committed to their mental health plan. Depending on the patient’s needs, MH Connext providers will be able to deliver brief care intervention for the patient, to reduce the risk of relapse and support their path to recovery.
Q. How does it work?
Some patients with severe mental illness symptoms and complex issues can struggle to access the right care or receive a coordinated service and treatment. Patients with severe and complex mental health issues often fall through the gaps in care. MH Connext acts as a bridge between the GP and other mental health services, providing intensive care management and connections to other treatment options and services.
Q. How is MH Connext delivered?
The MH Connext care management program is delivered in two formats: phone-based care management and face-to-face care management. Initially, face-to-face care management will provide support for patients transitioning across to MH Connext from the former Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP). The service will also be available for GPS to refer eligible patients. This service will be provided by Richmond Wellbeing. Telephone care management is available from Medibank Health Solutions. The GP will determine which care management format (telephone or face-to-face) they would prefer for their patients.
Q. How will Richmond Wellbeing and Medibank Health Services work together?
Richmond Wellbeing is currently delivering face-to-face care management for patients, including those transitioning across to MH Connext from the former Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP).
Over time, Medibank Health Solutions and Richmond Wellbeing will work together to facilitate integration between phone-based and face-to-face care management, supporting you to direct your patients to the best mode of care for their specific needs.
Q. What are the qualifications of staff delivering the service?
MH Connext will be staffed by experienced mental health professionals.
Q. Why is this change necessary?
State-based care services are designed to be the main point of contact for patients with severe and/or complex mental health needs. Over time, however, some GPs have used the former Access To Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program and Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) to help these patients access intervention.
The new stepped care model recognises that some people with severe and complex mental illness, whose needs are primarily met by GPs, require special coordination of care.
You can now refer those who are suitable to the new MH Connext care management program to receive support.
Q. What is the referral criteria?
Severe and complex mental illness is characterised by a severe level of clinical symptoms and a degree of disablement to social, personal, family and occupational function.
Eligibility is based on your clinical judgment, however MH Connext will also conduct an initial assessment of your patients’ needs upon referral. Patients need to have a mental health treatment plan to participate in the program.
Q. How do I refer a patient?
Referral forms can be downloaded from the WAPHA website, www.wapha.org.au/mhconnext.
This referral form can be used by GPs in the Perth metropolitan area to refer patients with severe and complex mental illness to care management services. Following a referral, MH Connext will either contact your patient directly to conduct an initial assessment or will contact you to discuss.
Care management (telephone)
To refer people to MH Connext telephone care management , please sign and submit the completed form via fax on 1800 532 012. If you would like to discuss any aspects of the referral process, you can phone 1800 532 012 or email MH.Connext@medibankhealth.com.au
Care management (face-to-face)
To refer people to MH Connext face-to-face care management please sign and submit the completed form via fax to (08) 9258 3090 or email it to MH.Connext@rw.org.au. If you would like to discuss any aspects of the referral process, you can phone (08) 9350 8800 or email MH.Connext@rw.org.au
Q. How do I assess severity and complexity?
Severe mental illness is often described as comprising of three subcategories:
- Severe episodic mental illness;
- Severe and persistent mental illness; and
- Severe and persistent mental illness with complex multi-agency needs.
Individuals from each of these groups can also experience complex health and social care needs, including medical comorbidities such as a chronic illness, or social care needs that require external support. This can include the need for coordinated assistance across a range of health, disability and social support agencies.
Your clinical assessment is relied on to establish that your patients will benefit from this coordination program.
It is important to note that MH Connext is an intensive service for the most vulnerable patients with severe and complex needs. It is not a substitute for acute treatments such as referral to hospital emergency departments and other forms of state-based care.
Q. What if a patient is severe but doesn’t qualify as complex or vice versa?
If a patient has severe mental illness, you can still refer them to existing Medicare-subsidised services including access to the mental health professionals and team-based mental health care that is provided through MBS (Better Access) Initiative.
Importantly, the MH Connext program provides an additional option for you to offer patients, but other services still remain available.
The new stepped care model will also include better advice for you about instances where state-based community mental health services may be more suitable for ongoing patient care. You can access Health Pathways for more information on a range of additional service providers.
Q. What kind of care management is on offer?
MH Connext service providers are expected to work alongside people with severe and complex mental illness to ensure a person-centred, recovery-oriented approach to care planning. This can include:
- Working with GPs and other medical practitioners to implement the mental health plan
- Working with GPs and other health practitioners or allied health providers to support the delivery of a care and treatment plan
- Making linkages to low or no-cost service providers for care
- Liaising with other mental health services to support the person’s recovery and treatment
- Keeping GPs and other practitioners informed of any services provided and on-referrals
- Promoting the assessment of their physical health.
In practical terms, this might include a care manager organising a standardised health and social needs assessment of your patient, reviewing their medication, supporting the patient with regular phone or face-to-face contact, connecting them with appropriate therapy, and addressing contributing issues such as access to housing, government services or income support.
Q. How long will my patient be able to access this program?
It depends on the specific needs of your patient. The care manager will complete a comprehensive assessment of your patient after 3 months to determine their need for ongoing support. You and your patient will be consulted as part of the review.
Q. Can you still utilise Medicare for your patients in the program?
Yes. You can still refer them to existing Medicare-subsidised services including access to the mental health professionals and team-based mental health care that is provided through MBS (Better Access) Initiative.
Q. How will I be kept informed?
MH Connext adds to the list of options a GP can offer a patient, but care management does not replace the central role of a GP in primary care.
You will be provided with regular structured updates on your patient, including details regarding patient progress against the mental health care plan you have developed. If the care manager identifies deterioration or emergent symptoms, they will manage the immediate situation and advise you of the event and how it was managed. Immediate actions may include accessing other appropriate mental health services or emergency services. In all cases, follow up GP consultation is recommended to support a review of the patient’s mental health care plan.
To discuss telephone-based care management, please phone 1800 532 012 or email MH.Connext@medibankhealth.com.au
To discuss face-to-face based care management, please phone (08) 9350 8800 or email MH.Connext@rw.org.au