Integrating ADHD care into practice work flows is vitally important for all practitioners who care for children, said Herschel Lessin, MD, a senior partner of the Children’s Medical Group in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Although not necessarily “easy” to do, it’s far less overwhelming than it seems when doctors take the time to thoughtfully set up protocols, train others in the office, and use the ADHD Toolkit sold by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Lessin told attendees at the annual meeting of the AAP, held virtually this year. Dr. Lessin is a coeditor of the AAP’s ADHD Toolkit 3rd Ed., although he does not receive royalties from it. The toolkit includes patient handouts, clinicians tools, and rating scales that help practices incorporate ADHD care into their practices.
“The biggest complaint is: ‘But I don’t have enough time to do all of this stuff,’ ” Dr. Lessin said. “The reality is, once you’re comfortable with the visits and you know how they progress and flow, they can be done much more quickly.” He emphasized that
Dr. Lessin gave multiple reasons it’s important to integrate ADHD care into practices, starting with the condition’s prevalence and the importance of building a medical home for patients.
“ADHD affects 8%-10% of your patient population, a truly enormous number, yet many pediatricians do not treat ADHD in their practices, depriving their patients of needed care and depriving themselves from economic benefits of the visits and the revenue,” he said. The pediatrician added that more than 80% of ADHD care takes place in pediatric offices, but much of it is “badly diagnosed and poorly treated” in both primary care and specialty offices.
Jesse Hackell, MD, a private practice pediatrician in a suburb of New York City and vice president of the New York AAP Chapter 3, attended the session and agreed with Dr. Lessin that pediatricians are best suited to manage ADHD over other practitioners.
“One of the things he pointed out is that it’s a pediatric issue,” Dr. Hackell said. “We’re better at this than psychiatrists, than neurologists, than psychologists because we’re really focused on the whole lifestyle of the child, how it impacts them at home, how it impacts them at school, and how it impacts them in the social sphere.”
There’s also been a substantial increase in mental health issues as a proportion of visits, particularly recently with the pandemic and accompanying lockdowns. Youth already have limited access to mental health resources, making general pediatricians’ roles even more important. “Who else is going to provide this much needed service if not pediatricians?” Dr. Lessin asked.
Again, Dr. Hackell agreed, noting that the AAP’s toolkit is especially helpful in providing this care.
“It’s something that pediatricians have often been afraid to deal with and who farm them out to these other specialties, and I don’t think the children are served as well,” Dr. Hackell said. “If you do the right forms and questionnaires, you can actually make it work for the kids and work it for your office, which generates a lot of visits and generates revenue.”