Why was the Academy established by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)?
To advance the field of integration, AHRQ created the Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care as a response to the recognized need for a national resource and coordinating center for those interested in behavioral health and primary care integration. As behavioral health integration became more prevalent, the demand increased to collect, analyze, synthesize, and issue actionable information that providers, policymakers, investigators, and consumers can readily use and apply. AHRQ's Academy is a response to that.
What is the purpose of the AHRQ Academy?
The Academy exists to improve the effectiveness and accelerate the pace of making best use of behavioral health in medical care to hit the Triple Aim.*
*The famous formulation of value in health care: 1) health of populations, and 2) experience of care, and 3) reduced per capita cost. (Berwick & IHI, 2008)
That is, the Academy exists to help build behavioral health care into primary care—a key functionality required to hit the Triple Aim. Most care systems don't do it systematically (if at all), though a great many are trying.* The Academy exists to aid those who are trying—and spread what they learn to others.
*It has been found difficult if not impossible to achieve the Triple Aim using only the traditionally separate and parallel systems for behavioral health and primary care, even as specialty mental health and substance abuse settings will remain critical parts in the overall health system.
What does the Academy do?
The Academy defines and organizes the subject matter, the research, and the best wisdom on why to do it and how to do it effectively on a meaningful scale—using a web portal. This addresses the interests and goals of those trying to change health care for the better—whether you are a practice, integrated delivery system, health plan, patient, or employer, or other payer—along with as many partners as can be engaged.
These Academy functions are needed to organize its knowledge base, definitions, measures, exemplars, strategies, lessons learned, and other practical wisdom and academic knowledge for quick practical application in the field. The value of the Academy is being recognized as an organizing and disseminating influence in this emerging field, guided for AHRQ by a council of national leaders in integrated behavioral health. These national leaders comprise the National Integration Academy Council or NIAC.
How can I be part of the Academy? How do I get answers to my questions? What can I do with whom and how?
It’s easy to participate. The Academy maintains a web portal that’s also an interactive web-based community—a “go-to” place for what you need—such as definitions, measures, implementers guide, literature, and all the rest. Here, you’ll interact with others to compare notes and learn from their experiences. Enter the Academy Portal at: http://integrationacademy.ahrq.gov/ to explore Academy resources and link to the Academy Community.