This seems like a genius idea. How great would it be to receive comprehensive care during a visit to your primary care doctor? Not only would your body receive a wellness exam, but your head, too! What if you could develop a relationship with an on-site behavioral health therapist who you could talk to you about your fears about medical procedures or who could help you create lifestyle changes such as improving diet or exercise?
Three years ago, the Health Federation of Philadelphia started such an initiative to promote the integration of behavioral health into primary care settings. The Federation works with community health centers that serve uninsured and under-insured in Philadelphia. Details about this initiative are featured in this month's edition of the online Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. The article highlights the development of this model of care, its implementation in the Philadelphia community health centers, the process of creating a reimbursement mechanism, and indicators of success. By all measures this initiative has been successful. Conservative estimates suggest that this model saved 3.7 million dollars in 2008. (The article details the formula used to establish this estimate.) In addition, the patients reported they were helped by the services and they would recommend the service to a friend or family member.
Given these results, I wonder, why are we (i.e., society) not investing in clinics that integrate behavioral and physical health? What are your thoughts about integrating behavioral health into a primary care setting?
posted by Lisa
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