A growing body of research shows that integrating primary care with behavioral health can produce positive outcomes for people with multiple healthcare needs. Primary care and behavioral health care models can be designed in a variety of ways depending on population health needs and the capacity of local health care organizations. These care models can be designed with varying levels of “integration” of behavioral health into daily primary care:
- Care coordination across settings (e.g. communication of primary care and behavioral health providers in separate facilities);
- Co-location of services (e.g. behavioral health providers working in the primary care setting); or
- Integration of care models (e.g. practice transformation to include behavioral health providers as part of the primary care team).
It is important to educate providers, payors, and funders about where an organization falls along the integration spectrum. SAMHSA published The Standard Framework for Levels of Integrated Healthcare which provides a common language for primary and behavioral healthcare provider organizations to use in determining where they are on the integration continuum. As shown in the graphic below, according to this framework there are six levels of collaboration/integration.
Community Health Solutions works at the community level to support the development of integrated care models. Keys to effective development include committed leadership, accurate analysis of population health needs, a culture of collaboration across clinical disciplines, and the potential for supportive payment models. Whether your organization is considering developing collaborative/integrated behavioral health and primary care, or is involved in conversations with such practices, we offer this framework as a tool to aid your communications.