Behavioral Health Integration at Southcentral Foundation
Southcentral Foundation employs integrated care teams to deliver health care to customer-owners. Details about SCF’s primary care teams can be found in previous blog entries. However, SCF has also integrated behavioral health providers into primary care so that they are available immediately should customer-owners need their services. Having behavioral services available in primary care clinics also works to put the mind and body back together, destigmatizing behavioral needs. The practice of integrating behavioral health services into primary care has resulted in increased quality of care and customer satisfaction.
SCF began integrating behavioral health services into primary care over ten years ago. SCF started small, adding behavioral health consultants to just a few clinics, and regularly evaluated the results of the collaboration. Seeing positive results, SCF expanded integration, and today clinics are fully integrated with behavioral health consultants available for same-day consultations with customer-owners and collaboration with care teams on cases. As a result of this integration, customer-owners can be assessed for a number of conditions in the primary care clinic, including depression, substance use, cognition, chronic pain and developmental changes. Consultants also perform certain services in the clinic, such as motivational interviewing and brief interventions.
Integration of behavioral health consultants has also enabled a redesigned intake process for behavioral health services. Prior to the redesign, customer-owners who needed services at SCF’s mental health clinic were given an intake with a psychiatrist or therapist. Unfortunately, this often resulted in long wait times for a behavioral health intake, and, as a result, many appointments were not kept. In 2012, SCF experimented with allowing customer-owners same-day access to services. Often, customer-owner needs can be met with a brief intervention; if not, the behavioral health consultant can connect them with the services they need.
SCF’s behavioral health redesign has resulted in greatly improved access to behavioral health services. Prior to the redesign, the average wait time to see a behavioral health provider or clinician was 42 calendar days. After the redesign, the maximum wait time is 7-28 calendar days, and 54 percent of behavioral providers and clinicians see the customer-owner within 1-7 calendar days. 96 percent of customer-owners say that they are satisfied with the care provided by SCF.
Integration of behavioral health services has improved primary care at SCF, and is another key element of the relationship-based care SCF offers.