Integration of behavioral healthcare and primary care has a number of presumed benefits, including better communication between providers and systems, leading to improved patient care. There are studies showing medical cost offsets, although they tend to be in circumscribed research settings. Northern California Kaiser-Permanente has designed a new primary care system providing mental health clinicians on a primary care team. Those clinicians evaluate patients, create treatment plans, provide brief interventions, coordinate care with specialty behavioral healthcare, and consult with primary care physicians. Those physicians also have an increased role in the detection and treatment of behavioral health problems via guidelines developed with behavioral health. Structural changes within the overall system, including regional call centers and computerized clinical information systems, support the integration. Quality programs also support the ongoing improvement of the integration process. There are investment expenses in this type of re-design, but also expected cost savings. An infrastructure is now in place to measure both clinical outcomes, and cost effects of the new model.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 9, 2004
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