Successfully Integrating Behavioral Health in Primary Care Settings Requires Teamwork
As the Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Frank DeGruy, MD, MSFM has been a leading advocate in integrating behavioral health within primary care settings. Successful integrated healthcare relies primarily on the teamwork of three professionals: primary care clinicians, behavioral health clinicians, and care managers/coordinators. In order to address both the physical and mental health needs of patients, this team must work collaboratively with patients to address, problem-solve and implement effective solutions to improve health outcomes and satisfaction. This holistic care approach is best performed when the care team communicates well, works to maximize individuals’ strengths and styles, and negotiates leadership roles over time to best target various elements of a care plan. The Academy’s online virtual community serves to strengthen this communication and the direction of integrated care by presenting a lexicon of commonly used words in the integrated field to facilitate communication, and through a forum in which the successes, failures, and challenges of integration can be discussed.