Benefits of Integrated Care
Integrated behavioral health care combines care for medical conditions with care for related behavioral health factors that affect health and well-being. Increasingly, primary care facilities are integrating a behavioral health specialist into primary care as a way to provide high-quality “whole-person care,” and to benefit patients, physicians, and the medical community.
In a 2016 survey of physicians regarding their opinions on integrating a behavioral health specialist into a medical care practice or facility, 94% said integrated care directly improves patient care.
Benefits of Integrated Care for Patients
- Patients have continuity of care, with a Behavioral Health Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner in their primary care office that is familiar with their medical and behavioral problems.
- Patients can return for treatment at any time, which has shown to increase patient satisfaction and improve access.
- Patients can see a Behavioral Health Provider who can prescribe medication as needed.
Benefits of Integrated Care for Physicians
- Stress reduction for primary care providers as PAs absorbs problematic patients who monopolize PCP clinical time (i.e., borderlines, somatizers, and anxious patients).
- PAs can assists PCP with plan development and be available for “hallway handoffs.”
- PA values a physician-guided team approach philosophy.
- PA can aid the PCP in screening patients for behavioral and social problems.
Benefits of Integrated Care for the Medical Community
- Follows emerging PCMH (Patient-Centered Medical Home) and ACO (Accountable Care Organization) models.
- Improves communication between behavioral and primary providers.
- Utilizes evidence-based psychotherapeutic interventions to improve somatic symptoms, which results in fewer unnecessary consults with overburdened specialists.