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Behavioral health conditions are extremely common, affecting nearly one in five Americans. The annual health care costs for behavioral health conditions amount to $57 billion, on par with cancer. However, behavioral health care is often separated from the primary care system, resulting in a lower standard of care for patients.

Having two, mostly independent care systems in place actually causes higher spending, especially for patients with related physical and behavioral health conditions like anxiety and depression and substance abuse. Instead of receiving proper care, they need to navigate both systems and not entirely receive the proper attention they need.

Integrated Behavioral Health

Through behavioral health integration, behavioral and primary care providers can work together and provide better quality health care using a more holistic approach. This can be used as an advantage that both the patient and the medical provider can benefit from.

Benefits of Behavioral Health Integration

A growing body of research shows integrated behavioral health improves health and patient experience. Combining the two systems will likely result in better coordination and communication between medical specialists. The integration can also lead to the reduction of unnecessary costs in time, money, and delays. Some of the benefits include:

  • Patients with chronic health conditions are more likely to have some other behavioral health concerns that may or may not be connected to the former. It’s easier to improve those chronic conditions when both concerns are also addressed.  
  • Patients feel it is more socially acceptable and easier to access behavioral health care treatment in a setting they are already familiar with, rather than going to a separate rehabilitation or care center. The consolidation also removes the stigma on patients going into mental care facilities.
  • Any medical team in charge of treating the patient’s physical conditions isn’t always trained to handle behavioral-related concerns. Patients are more at ease to learn that behavioral health partners are available to address their problems in the same setting when needed.

Expanded Role of Clinicians in Integrated Care

Since there’s behavioral health integration, clinicians will have a broader scope of practice to meet the needs of patients in primary care as well as behavioral health concerns. To be able to achieve this, the clinician needs improved communication, collaboration, and care coordination with other members of the healthcare team.

For example, a patient identified with substance abuse often comes to a medical professional’s attention because of a primary care condition like an overdose. Health care providers will then need to assess the situation and take the necessary steps to treat the patient. With an integrated system, however, the provider will then take into consideration the often complex but interconnected physical, social, and psychological aspects of the issue. They will then need to consult with behavioral health specialists before proceeding with the patient’s treatment.

Conclusion

Imagine primary care and behavioral care being integrated with each other and anchored in interprofessional practice. Both primary care providers and behavioral health specialists will contribute to a healthy dynamic when treating a patient. Eventually, when the seamless integration has been achieved, patients will only see the practice as “health care in general” without any distinctions.

Medistics Health is at the forefront of medical innovation to give patients a more accessible and healthier level of care. Whether your patient needs chronic care management or behavioral health treatment, Medistics Health is here to simplify their experience. Partner with us today!

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