Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Evaluation of Integrated Care at CMHCs Reveals Successes, Challenges

Integrated care can take many forms. One is to offer primary and other general medical care services to patients already receiving psychiatric services at a community mental health center (CMHC), notes a new report by Deborah Scharf, Ph.D., of the RAND Corp. To test that care paradigm, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) began awarding Primary and Behavioral Healthcare Integration (PBHCI) service grants to expand primary care access at CMHCs.

The evaluation of the programs found that patients enrolled in PBHCI clinics show improvement in measures of dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes but not on others, like smoking or excess weight, compared with those receiving services at non-PBHCI clinics. “SAMHSA and its partner agencies may benefit from replicating successful initiatives, refining delivery of services, and working with state policymakers to further coordinate policies affecting delivery of integrated care,” the researchers concluded.

"As project director for one of the PBHCI grant projects studied by RAND, I am pleased to see that access to care for our medically at-risk populations can be improved by integrated on-site availability in the mental health setting,” said psychiatrist John Kern, M.D., chief medical officer at Regional Mental Health Center in Merrillville, Ind., in an interview with Psychiatric News.

To read more about the move to integrated care, see the Psychiatric News articles, "NIMH Fosters ‘Practice-Ready’ Solutions to Integrating Primary, MH Care" and "Get Started in Integrated Care by Picking Up the Phone," which is written by Kern. Read previous findings from the same research group in the Psychiatric Services
article, "Integrating Primary Care Into Community Behavioral Health Settings...."

(Image: WaveBreakMedia/


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