Behavioral Health Integration

Integrating behavioral and physical care

Dividing the care of behavioral health from physical health limits our ability to achieve the “quadruple aim” of practice transformation (to enhance the patient experience, improve population health, reduce cost, and improve the work life of healthcare providers, including clinicians and staff). There is now a large body of evidence that supports the importance of integrated models of patient care, which bring these two areas of health together. In order to create a well-developed behavioral health and primary care integration plan, three distinct areas need to align–clinical, operational, and financial.

A Success Story: Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic and behavioral health integration into primary care

Clinical:

  • Adopt a population-based approach to detection and treatment
  • Use an evidence-based approach to patient evaluation and care
  • Have behavioral health professionals working in teams with primary care providers to create plans and administer treatment, respecting patient goals and values to provide whole person care to patient and family
  • Engage the entire care team to improve team function and quality of care

Operational:

  • Design physical work spaces that promote in-person collaboration
  • Use well-designed electronic medical records to promote collaboration, planning, and follow-up
  • Create consultation systems that promote seamless, well-coordinated patient care

Financial:

  • Pay behavioral health care professionals in ways that encourage collaboration
  • Use advanced payment reimbursement models for behavioral health care to maximize access to care on par with other healthcare benefits