Because a high percentage of primary care patients have behavioral problems, patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) that wish to attain true comprehensive whole-person care will find ways to integrate behavioral health services into their structure. Yet in today’s health care environment, the incorporation of behavioral services into primary care is exceptional rather than usual practice. In this article, we discuss the components considered necessary to provide sustainable, value added integrated behavioral health care in the PCMH. These components are to:(1) combine medical and behavioral benefits into one payment pool; (2) target complex patients for priority behavioral health care; (3) use proactive onsite behavioral “teams;” (4) match behavioral professional expertise to the need for treatment escalation inherent in stepped care; (5) define, measure, and systematically pursue desired outcomes; (6) apply evidence-based behavioral treatments; and (7) use cross-disciplinary care managers in assisting the most complicated and vulnerable. By adopting these 7 components, PCHMs will augment their ability to achieve improved health in their patients at lower cost in a setting that enhances ease of access to commonly needed services.
Roger G. Kathol, MD1,2
Frank deGruy, MD3
Bruce L. Rollman, MD, MPH4
Published in the Annals of Family Medicine