Learn how patient-centered care plays a vital role.
Integrated Care combines physical, mental and behavioral care in one setting. There are many ways to integrate care, and it may go by different names such as “Collaborative Care” or “Medical Homes.” This is an important model of care because:
- Primary care settings, like a doctor’s office, provide about half of all mental health care for common psychiatric disorders.
- Adults with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders also have higher rates of chronic physical illnesses and die earlier than the general population.
- People with common physical health conditions also have higher rates of mental health issues.
Providing integrated care helps patients and their providers. It blends the expertise of mental health, substance use, and primary care clinicians with feedback from patients and their caregivers. This creates a team-based approach where mental health care and general medical care are offered in the same setting. Coordinating care in this way can help address the physical health problems of people with serious mental illnesses.
Why Is It Important?
Addressing the whole person’s physical and behavioral health is essential for positive health outcomes and cost-effective care. Many people may not have access to mental health care or may prefer to visit their primary health care provider. Historically, it has been difficult for a primary care provider to offer effective, high-quality mental health care when working alone. By combining mental health services with primary care, we can increase the quality of care and ultimately, save lives.
Addressing Physical and Behavioral Health
Untreated or undertreated mental illnesses have serious consequences. People with severe mental illness often die 13 to 30 years earlier than the general population from medical conditions that could have been treated by a primary care provider.
Children benefit from integrated care
Most children with mental health conditions are treated in a primary care setting instead of a specialized mental health setting. About half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14. Accurate diagnosis and quality care are vital in a primary care setting.
Adults benefit from integrated care
Adults are also more likely to be seen in a primary care setting than within a mental health system. Primary care providers deliver half of the mental health care for common conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, depression, behavioral problems, and substance use. Yet, people with mental illnesses who are treated in a primary care setting are less likely to receive effective behavioral health care. For example, 75% of adult patients with depression see primary care providers, but only half are accurately diagnosed. When a referral is made to a mental health provider, only about half of patients follow through with making an appointment. As a result, many behavioral health problems go undetected, undertreated and/or untreated.
How does it work?
Integrated Care meets all of a patient’s health needs in one setting. It can be delivered in multiple ways depending on who is providing the care, what type of care is being provided, where the care is taking place, and how services are being coordinated.
The following are examples of Integrated Care programs:
A team-based Collaborative Care program adds two new types of services to usual primary care: behavioral health care management and consultations with a mental health specialist.
The behavioral health care manager becomes part of the patient’s treatment team and helps the primary care provider evaluate the patient’s mental health and develop a treatment plan.
Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH)
Another Integrated Care approach is the patient-centered medical home. This model involves coordinating a patient’s overall health care needs at any age. Providers coordinate all aspects of preventive, acute, and chronic needs of patients using the best available evidence and appropriate technology.
The general principles of Integrated Care are setting the stage for better care for adults and children. Watch for more discussion about integrated healthcare to learn how it can benefit you and your family.
If you are participating in an integrated healthcare setting, Our Health Matters would love to hear what you like best about this approach. Email your comments to us at [email protected]