Want to integrate behavioral health at your primary care practice? Here’s how it works.
In just a few short years, behavioral health integration (BHI) has gained significant traction with primary care providers nationwide. And for good reason: This model improves clinical outcomes, lowers healthcare costs, and increases patient satisfaction. Of course, it’s still a relatively new way of care in the U.S., and many primary care staff still have questions about how BHI really works.
To answer those questions, let’s explore how BHI — and specifically, evolvedMD’s enhanced model — would impact a patient. We’ll call this theoretical patient Amy.
Amy is 30 years old, and the pandemic has made her anxiety and depression significantly worse. She has scoured the internet for the right therapist, but the high costs and three-month wait time have left Amy feeling defeated, isolated, and hopeless. After making an appointment with and seeing her primary care provider, the path forward isn’t exactly encouraging. The doctor can prescribe Amy an antidepressant, but also recommends seeing a mental health professional.
Unfortunately, this primary care facility doesn’t have an onsite therapist to address mental health. Amy needs help today, and a referral would only put Amy back on another waitlist.
What can behavioral health integration do for Amy?
This model places behavioral health specialists (licensed social workers, counselors, therapists, etc.) onsite at Amy’s primary care practice. And her primary care doctor collaborates with these onsite specialists — as well as other healthcare professionals — to get Amy the immediate comprehensive care she really needs. In addition to quickly getting Amy help, these specialists coordinate with one another, making comprehensive plans to meet Amy’s needs.
evolvedMD’s unique, clinically validated model leverages additional supervisors and coordinators to make sure all parties are supported, and connects Amy with additional community-based resources when needed. Within this model, Amy feels seen, supported, and fully cared for, all at the primary care facility where she’s comfortable.
In other words, Amy is fully empowered to meet her challenges.
What does this process look like Amy’s primary care practice?
- Amy schedules an appointment to see her provider. At check-in, she takes the PHQ-9 (depression screening tool) and GAD-7 (anxiety screening tool). Both scores indicate mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety.
- During her routine checkup, she also expresses difficulty sleeping, persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and constant worrying.
- Treatment for anxiety and depression is recommended, and Amy is immediately connected with the onsite Behavioral Health Specialist.
- On the same day, Amy begins her first 45-minute appointment with the Behavioral Health Specialist for talk therapy.
- The Behavioral Health Specialist connects with an off-site Psychiatric Consultant for medication recommendations, and shares all of Amy’s pertinent information.
- Amy is prescribed an antidepressant based on the Psychiatric Consultant’s recommendations.
- Amy revisits next month to check in and have a quick 15-minute follow-up with the Behavioral Health Specialist.
- Amy continues visiting the Behavioral Health Specialist once a month as well as check-ins with her primary care doctor for three months. Her symptoms improve, and upon screening again with PHQ-9/GAD-7, her scores drop significantly. Amy is in remission.
How much does this cost Amy?
With behavioral health integration, Amy receives mental health services at the same cost as her primary care visits per her insurance. She pays the same copay for each appointment, and avoids the additional financial burden of seeing a specialist.
How common is Amy’s story?
You probably don’t need us to answer this one, but we will anyway. Amy’s story — and the two fork-in-road scenarios we outlined — isn’t just a story. It’s the story for countless patients. evolvedMD has served more than 20,000 patients just like Amy, and improved access to care for more than 1 million people across Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.
How do I integrate behavioral health services at my practice?
It’s simple: Contact evolvedMD today and begin your partnership!
If you would like to learn more about integrating behavioral health in your clinic, please contact Kim Ho, Vice President of Sales, at email@example.com