For decades, mental health was largely divorced from physical health. While this perspective has changed, primary care physicians continue the challenging task of revising their practices to encompass mental and behavioral healthcare.
They are turning to an emerging approach to primary care practice called integrated behavioral healthcare — an area in which the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is leading. This patient-centric model focuses on care that treats the whole person; it relies on the idea that the mind and body are not separable. In other words, patients’ primary care and behavioral healthcare providers work together to deliver the best care.
Leadership for transforming care
This evidence-based handbook is intended to give practical, firsthand advice from real-world practices that can be applied by large and small, rural and urban, and public and private primary care practices around the world. It is broken down into chapters that focus on “the how” of what it takes to implement integrated care.
“This handbook can be used as a walkthrough for practice transformation,” said Gold, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine in the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “It is a ‘how to guide’ on integrating behavioral health into primary care clinics. It provides much-needed guidance and support in how to approach to care delivery.”
Each chapter includes extra resources including articles and websites that can assist in implementation.
Collaborating to create change
Gold and Green, MD, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine, were contacted by Springer, publisher of the handbook, to edit the piece and organize other expert opinion.
“The book is grounded in lessons learned from pioneers in integrated care,” Gold said of her collaborators.
The intended audience stretches far beyond physicians; it is for anyone involved in primary care, including practice administrators and practice facilitators. The content is general enough to be applicable to practices across the world, save some policy information specific to the United States.
“This can be used in any community,” said Green. “It’s a practical guide to help healthcare providers know what it takes to get this implementation work done.”
Progressing despite barriers
“There has been a persistent failure of providing proper healthcare for people with mental, emotional, and behavioral problems,” Green added. “Primary care practices everywhere cannot escape this. Patients are waiting for this kind of care. We just need to get on with it. We know how; let’s work together and do it.”
“Integrated Behavioral Health in Primary Care” is available now through Springer Publishing and Amazon.