One way Passport Health Plan models collaboration and innovation in healthcare is by focusing on the integrated care model, which helps us improve both the physical health and the behavioral health – covering mental health and substance use disorders – of our members.
Integrated care, also known as coordinated care, is the bringing together of physical and behavioral health care for a patient. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “People with mental and substance abuse disorders may die decades earlier than the average person – mostly from untreated and preventable chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease that are aggravated by poor health habits such as inadequate physical activity, poor nutrition, smoking, and substance use disorders. Barriers to primary care – coupled with challenges in navigating complex healthcare systems – have been a major obstacle to care.”
Three Types of Integrated Care
- Referral-based: When a general practitioner refers a patient to a behavioral health specialist, and vice versa.
- Co-located: When multiple health care providers are in the same building but run separate practices.
- Collaborative: When multiple healthcare providers are working as a team in the same office to see patients, sometimes even at the same time.
It is important for our members to receive care where they are most comfortable. For members who have a history of behavioral health treatment, some may be most comfortable seeking care in a behavioral health setting.
The same is true for our members who may have only received care in a medical setting. This means using integrated care models to incorporate behavioral health interventions and substance use disorder treatment along with medical care. Because depression is the most prevalent secondary condition that a patient experiences in a medical setting, we work with our ever-expanding network of providers to make sure they are communicating clearly and comprehensively with their patients to identify and treat all of their symptoms.
Currently, we have initiated a pilot program for Passport members in Hardin County in which a team of physicians, social workers and health coaches collaborate to place the focus on each member’s individual healthcare needs to help them achieve and exceed their goals.
Through this program, members suffering from multiple chronic conditions can receive the team-based coordinated care needed to address all of their healthcare needs and improve their quality of life. The patient is at the center of and participates in the design of the shared treatment plan.
By embarking on this pilot program, and researching similar ways we can bring the idea of collaborative integrated care to other members around the Commonwealth, we are putting the focus on the entire person rather than splitting their physical health needs and behavioral health needs.
As we work with more providers in these coordinated and integrated models, this will reduce the overall cost of fragmented and duplicative care and increase the feeling of good health among our members. Together, we can produce some positive change for all Kentuckians.
The systematic coordination of general and behavioral healthcare. Integrating mental health, substance abuse, and primary care services produces the best outcomes and proves the most effective approach to caring for people with multiple healthcare needs.
– Elizabeth McKune, EdD, is director of Behavioral Health for Passport Health Plan.
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