A new program designed to create comprehensive, integrated, whole-person health care systems for the people of Colorado has received a $3.9 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.
Advancing Care Together (ACT) is a four-year program housed in the department of family medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
It brings together local and national leaders from the mental health, substance use, and primary care communities to tackle the fragmentation of health care – which has led to the separate treatment of the physical and the mental.
This fragmentation, which began 400 years ago, has grown into entirely separate systems of care that rarely communicate with each other.
"The result is a duplication of efforts that undermine comprehensive care and hamstring clinicians with incomplete data," said Larry Green, M.D., director of ACT. "In the end, patients do not get the care they need and deserve."
He said the grant would "produce best practice models of comprehensive, integrated whole-person health care for the people of Colorado."
"ACT will engage people at the front lines of service to offer their best ideas about how to work together in primary health care and mental health care settings," Green said. "There should be no 'wrong door' in a properly constructed system – whether people understand their problems as emotional, behavioral or physical, their needs should be comprehensively addressed."
Anne Warhover, CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation, agreed, saying a more systemic approach is needed.
"The integration of behavioral and physical health services is a key area of focus and investment for us," she said. "There is an overwhelming need for a systemic approach in developing best practices, addressing financial barriers and driving policy solutions that will allow for statewide implementation and sustainability of a better model. That's why the work of ACT is so important to the people of Colorado and why we have invested in its efforts."
ACT, which began in January, will release a call for proposals next month inviting applications from primary care practices and community mental health centers to offer their best ideas about how to redesign their systems of care and offer practical solutions to better integrate the care of their patients and clients. ACT will award as many as 12 three-year demonstration grants of up to $50,000 per year to each participating practice.