Support from leadership, providers, and staff is essential to the success of an integrated ambulatory care program. Communicate how integrating behavioral health into the practice aligns with what matters to each of them.
Depending on the size of your organization, several levels of leadership may impact the success of the program.
- Senior leadership is important because they can provide direction and broadcast messages about integrated primary care. Resources are often allocated at this level.
- Midlevel operational leaders play a role in acquiring resources and problem-solving during implementation. They are especially critical in helping with issues that may emerge in larger multi-site organizations.
- Frontline clinical and operational leaders help staff adjust to changes in workflow and are involved in solving day-to-day implementation problems.
If your leaders are asking “Why integrated care?” you may need to provide them with background information on the potential impact of integration.
Potential benefits of behavioral health integration include:
- Better access to behavioral health care for ambulatory care patients.
- Better communication and coordination between medical and behavioral health providers.
- Assistance for ambulatory care providers and staff with the behavioral and emotional aspects of care, especially for high-risk, complex patients.
- Better outcomes for patients with common behavioral health conditions and possibly for those with physical health conditions such as chronic illness.
The impact of behavioral health integration on the cost of care is not yet clear. A recent report that Milliman prepared for the American Psychiatric Association (PDF - 666 KB) suggests substantial potential cost savings based on conservative financial models.