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Colorado Access Partners with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains to Implement Behavioral Health Screenings in Hopes of Reducing Related Emergency Department Visits

The Two Local Nonprofits are Evaluating Initial Results From Nearly 500 Patient Screens and See Potential for Greater Impact

DENVER – September 13, 2021 – Suicidal ideation is one of the top 10 reasons for emergency department (ED) visits among Colorado Access members. At the national level, a recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry found that rates of behavioral health related ED visits were higher between March-October of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. The conclusion is clear: there is an increasing need for behavioral health prevention, screening and intervention, especially during and following public health crises.

Colorado Access and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) are working together to address this issue among vulnerable Coloradans. As of May 17, 2021, 100% of patients at the Littleton, Colorado, location are now receiving a behavioral health screening as part of their visit. This change is a major step toward fully integrated patient care, which has the potential to positively impact the long term health of PPRM patients and the state’s Medicaid population.

“Early identification and treatment leads to better health outcomes, can lessen long term disability and prevent years of suffering,” said Rob Bremer, PhD, Vice President of Network Strategy at Colorado Access. “The screenings, which are conducted in person or over the phone, also help reduce the stigma around behavioral health by providing patients a regular opportunity to talk about it.”

The initial data from May 17 to June 28, 2021, showed that 38 of all 495 patients screened positive for depressive symptoms. These 38 patients were then provided a more in-depth screen to determine whether they meet criteria for a depressive disorder. Eleven patients declined the additional screen, due to already being connected to a therapist, and the remaining 23 patients were provided a referral to counseling. PPRM is currently conducting follow-ups to determine completion rates.

The teams at Colorado Access and PPRM are hoping this change could ultimately reduce behavioral health related ED visits by finding and addressing depression in its early stages. The organizations will be tracking local ED data to determine if there is a notable decrease in patients admitted for mental health reasons.

“We are so appreciative of our partnership with Colorado Access and their work to fund and implement these screenings,” said Whitney Phillips, Vice President of Brand Experience at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “It has started conversations at the local and organizational level that will create change for years to come.”

About Colorado Access
As the largest and most experienced public sector health plan in the state, Colorado Access is a nonprofit organization that works beyond just navigating health services. The company focuses on meeting members’ unique needs by partnering with providers and community organizations to provide better personalized care through measurable results. Their broad and deep view of regional and local systems allows them to stay focused on our members’ care while collaborating on measurable and economically sustainable systems that serve them better. Learn more at