Better integration of behavioral health, primary care needed

ACP recommends working toward removal of payment barriers that impede behavioral health and primary care integration.
ACP recommends working toward removal of payment barriers that impede behavioral health and primary care integration.

HealthDay News — Behavioral health should be further integrated into the primary care setting, which will necessitate changes to the health care delivery system, payment model, and education and training, according to a position paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ryan A. Crowley, and Neil Kirschner, PhD, from the American College of Physicians (ACP) in Washington, D.C., reviewed the literature and developed recommendations relating to better integration of behavioral health into the primary care setting for mental health, substance abuse, and other behavioral health conditions.

The authors note that the ACP supports the integration of behavioral health care into primary care. Furthermore, the ACP recommends working toward removal of payment barriers that impede behavioral health and primary care integration. Behavioral health insurance coverage gaps that are barriers to integrated care should be addressed, including strengthening and enforcing relevant nondiscrimination laws. 

The ACP supports further research to define the most effective approach to integration of behavioral health care, encourages efforts to ensure an adequate workforce to provide for integrated behavioral care, and recommends initiation of programs to reduce the stigma associated with behavioral health.

"Most patients with behavioral health needs use the primary care office as their main source of care, and given the nation's shortage of behavioral health providers, this may be the only setting in which behavioral health problems can be broadly recognized and treated," the authors write.

References

  1. Crowley RA et al. Ann Intern Med. 2015; doi:10.7326/M15-0510.
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