Over the last several years across the country, there has been a significant increase in concerns regarding behavioral and developmental challenges facing our children and their families. The issues of anxiety, depression, family disruptions and substance abuse, as well as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities and other developmental disabilities, affect our patients and their families not infrequently. We at PHA, as pediatric clinicians, have been working in concert with our national organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, to increase our abilities to better recognize these issues, so as to be able to provide better care to our patients and their families when dealing with these concerns.
As part of this effort, we have been utilizing a number of nationally accepted screening questionnaires that we ask parents and patients to complete when your children and adolescents come in for their checkups. Research studies have shown that by the use of these questionnaires, we are able to identify and address behavioral and developmental concerns more effectively than in the past. Our experience agrees with these studies, and we feel the quality of care for our patients in these areas has improved significantly. We have been able to identify important issues that might have been missed previously in the routine conversations that occur in the office visit. As a result, over the last year, we have hired two mental health specialists to join our PHA team in order to improve access to behavioral and developmental care.
Traditionally insurance companies have provided less than optimal coverage for mental health and developmental issues, and we have worked with many of you to argue, appeal, and, at times, fight with your insurance companies to get you the best mental health and developmental services available. The reimbursed fee is dictated to us by the insurance companies and there is little consistency between insurance plans and policies. To provide our families with awareness, we distribute a written notification to all parents at the time of the checkups, when we are administering the questionnaires, indicating that your insurance may not cover the fee, but still share in your frustration if it does not.
As we all know from our local and national media, the solutions to these healthcare financing challenges are incredibly complex. However, there have been positive outcomes when the public reaches out to their local and State representatives and insurance companies. Your efforts can make a difference as we work together to provide the most comprehensive and up to date care to our children as possible.
We hope this explanation answers some of your questions about the importance of these questionnaires. Our mission is to provide you and your children the best pediatric care available.
Your Care Team at PHA