March 23, 2019
Over the past decade, the integration of behavioral health and general medical services has been shown to improve patient outcomes, save money, and reduce stigma related to mental health. Significant research spanning three decades has identified one model – the Collaborative Care Model – in particular, as being effective and efficient in delivering integrated care.
A Collaborative Care team is led by a primary care provider (PCP) and includes care managers, psychiatrists, and frequently other mental health professionals all empowered to work at the top of their license. The team implements a measurement-guided care plan based on evidence-based practice guidelines, and focuses particular attention on patients not meeting their clinical goals.
The Collaborative Care Model has the most evidence among integration models to demonstrate its effective and efficient integration in terms of controlling costs, improving access, improving clinical outcomes, and increasing patient satisfaction in a variety of primary care settings – rural, urban, and among veterans. Multiple studies show that having a psychiatrist to provide caseload consultation to a care manager who coordinates with patients and a PCP is an essential element of the model and correlates with improved outcomes.