New resource gathers research, commentary on shaping integrated health care

By Staff

With the burden of behavioral health problems impacting the lives of so many, and because clinicians want to deliver the best care for their patients, a special issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, published earlier this month, lays out important lessons and strategies from Advancing Care Together (ACT) and Integrated Workforce Study (IWS) practices about what it takes to work together to get those in need the care they deserve. 

Those seeking care for mental health, substance use and behavioral health care are painfully aware when they don’t get what’s needed and suffer the consequences. And clinicians are exasperated when they can’t provide the care they believe is warranted.

“Those who are interested in delivering comprehensive primary care will like this body of work,” said Frank deGruy, M.D., MSFM, the Woodward Chisholm Chair of the CU School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine. “This supplement is the best resource I’ve had in 20 years to refer clinicians who want to actively integrate behavioral health care into their practices.”

The eight original research articles and four commentaries in this special issue are designed to help clinicians, funders and payers envision and organize constructs to shape integrated care. These constructs include the extent to which integration efforts are delivered to the target population, how to establish a continuum of care pathways, how to approach patient transitions, location of the integrated workforce, and agreement by the care team on the mental model for integration.

The vanguard practices that did the innovation work represented in this issue worked to change how they care for people and are continuing to serve their local communities with courage and imagination.

“These practices are leading what is now a movement toward proper, whole-person care, where there is not artificial distinction between mental and physical health,” said Larry Green, M.D., ACT Director. People who need this approach to care are waiting for wide-scale adoption of this type of practice. It can be done if clinicians, advocacy groups, and policy makers unite to advance integrated care.

ACT, a five-year program funded by the Colorado Health Foundation and administered by the CU Department of Family Medicine and evaluated by the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), was designed to change practice and make a real difference in the lives of people. The 11 participating Colorado practices – primary care and mental health centers – were rural and urban, public and private, small and large. The IWS evaluation project was funded by the Agency for Healthcare and Quality, the Maine Access Foundation, and the California Mental Health Services Authority Foundation and included an eight-practice initiative outside Colorado also evaluated by the OHSU team.

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM) is the official peer-reviewed journal of the ABFM published since 1988. Believing that the public and scientific communities are best served by open access to information, JABFM makes it articles available free of charge and without registration at JABFM is indexed by Medline, Index Medicus and other services.