Mental health follow-ups increase with reminders

SENDING reminder letters to patients and practice managers can increase GP follow-up of people with mental illness fourfold, new data shows.

Melbourne researchers found that when a letter was sent to 44 patients and 31 practice managers, after psychiatric assessments were mailed out to their GPs, 90% of patients had seen their GP within one month of that assessment, compared with only 66% of patients before the intervention.

Dr Caroline Johnson, a spokesperson on mental health for the RACGP, said the letters showed someone other than the patient’s GP was taking responsibility for patient follow-up.

“Any strategy that gets the message across that mental health problems need ongoing care, and preferably with the GP who originally referred you, makes a lot of sense to me,” she said.

Marina Fulcher, practice management consultant and past president of the Australian Association of Practice Man­agers, said the