ALBANY — St. Peter’s Health Partners is receiving state and national recognition for its new integrated behavioral health model in primary care, designed to greatly increase the number of patients receiving treatment for mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
The idea behind the program is to treat patients for mental health issues within their primary care setting, removing barriers to getting care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has given this new integrated behavioral health model Best Practice Recognition in its CMS Primary First Spotlight, a National CMS publication for Primary Care Practices enrolled in the program across the nation.
Using St. Peter’s integrated behavioral health model, a primary care practice is provided with a behavioral health manager and a consulting psychiatrist so that patients expressing symptoms of depression, anxiety (and eight other behavioral health issues) can receive immediate treatment where they are, with the doctor with whom they already have a rapport. Primary care doctors report an increased comfort level treating their primary care patients for mental health concerns when they have behavioral health experts working alongside them.
“Ninety-five percent of care is provided telephonically, so the patient doesn’t have to physically go anywhere to receive treatment,” explained Deb House, Integrated Care Coordination Services Clinical Executive at St. Peter’s Health Partners. “They are connected with a care manager over the phone, several times a month, to touch base on symptoms and what’s going to help them feel better.”