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If you haven’t heard of integrated behavioral health care, it’s because it’s considered an emerging field within the healthcare industry. In simple terms, it can be described as any approach or situation wherein behavioral health, and medical providers work collaboratively.

The care provided is systematic and more cost-effective. It may also address conditions like mental health or substance abuse, health behaviors and their contribution to chronic illnesses, life crises, and physical symptoms that may be associated with stress, and others.

This post aims to help clarify the language that is used in defining integrated behavioral health care and at the same time give sufficient guidance on the contexts that the definitions are applied to:

Behavioral Health

This term is used to stress the broad application of integrated health services in medical care. Behavioral health covers behavioral factors in care for chronic illnesses, physical symptoms of stress, health behavior, and other diagnoses. It’s worth noting that the term “behavioral health” may be used in a different context in other circles.

Patient-Centered Care

What’s being reinforced here when this term is used is that the patient is the key stakeholder in integrated care. IT is defined as health care that focuses on the partnership between patients and their families and their healthcare practitioners – ensuring that every decision made is respectful of the patient’s needs and wants. It also ensures that patients are educated about the condition and the treatments to make informed choices and participate in their care.

Systematic

This simply means that integration should be incorporated as a routine part of health care and that it should be used whenever and wherever it’s appropriate for the patient’s care.

The teams behind integrated behavioral health care do not have to be present at the same time and location and perform their services simultaneously to provide integrated care. That said, there are indeed advantages to getting everything done and tied on-site in a single primary care setting, including the higher possibility of patients following through with the referrals they get. Still, increased integration can be done by clinicians or organizations that may not be physically in the same place but share care plans and workflows. As long as the care team can fulfill integrated behavioral health care functions, it doesn’t matter whether or not they’re working in one location. 

Behavioral Health Care and Good Health Care

For many, the definition of integrated behavioral health care may be just the same as describing any good healthcare, and they may be surprised to learn that they are different. 

Here’s the thing. Good health care should include behavioral health. However, in the last two decades, a lot has been invested in the development and implementation of the principles of high-quality health care that focuses more on prevention and management of acute and chronic diseases – and there’s not really any integration of primary care and behavioral health care. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this post has given you a deeper understanding of integrated behavioral health care and why organizations and practices should look into it as a well-rounded approach to treating their patients. After all, behavioral health is an essential part of a patient’s overall health and should always be considered when making diagnoses and giving treatment plans. 

If your organization is looking into providing integrated behavioral health care for your patients, Medistics Health’s remote patient monitoring system can help simplify your experience. Speak with one of our trained staff today to know more about medical devices!

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