Behavioral Health Primary Care Integration - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Behavioral Health Primary Care Integration

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Recovery from mental illness and substance use are life-long processes and require long-term services and supports.  Programs and providers that serve people with behavioral health challenges are too often siloed and marginalized within the overall health and social services system, resulting in fragmented services, deep challenges to information sharing and care coordination, and chronic underfunding.

Recognizing that the stigma that people with behavioral health challenges face in their daily lives is also reflected in the budgets and regulations of programs that serve them, the Center for Long-Term Care Reform started the Behavioral Health-Primary Care Integration Learning Collaborative in 2015 to guide local advocacy and facilitate practice-level change to improve the lives of people with mental illness and substance use disorder.

The Learning Collaborative
Health & Medicine launched a multi-phase project to help primary care and behavioral health providers develop strategies to better implement evidence-based models for integration of behavioral and physical care to facilitate more effective utilization of available resources and expand the capacity of behavioral health and primary care providers to provide high quality, person-centered care to more people in need.

In the fall of 2015, Health & Medicine initiated a Behavioral and Primary Care Integration Learning Collaborative — a team-based approach to improving processes, practices, and systems by sharing experiences, resources, and challenges — to identify and adopt best practices for behavioral health-primary care integration in Illinois. The collaborative brought together community behavioral health agencies, primary care providers, facility-based behavioral health providers, and people in recovery to share their experiences, participate in trainings, and prepare to pilot evidence-based models that can be tested and continuously improved based on systematic tracking of processes and outcomes.

Under Health & Medicine’s leadership, the Collaborative made great progress and established consensus criteria standards and definitions for integrated care models — a critical step in launching new integration strategies in Illinois. These criteria include being person-centered, financially sustainable, and utilizing a robust workforce and effective technology. The group also addressed current clinical and administrative integration practices; generated ideas to navigate identified barriers to integrated delivery systems; and worked to define a flexible integration framework and strategies to achieve our objective of creating new, impactful models.

Behavioral Health Primary Care Integration Learning Collaborative members included people with lived experience, represented by Shirley Helm, Self-Advocate; Heartland Health Centers; Heartland Health Outreach, Inc; Erie Family Health Center; Grand Prairie Services; Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center; Lutheran Social Services of Illinois; Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois; Clayton Residential Home; Sinai Health System; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois; and Health & Medicine Policy Research Group.

Health & Medicine wishes to thank Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois for their generous support of this project.