New Book Helps Teams Provide Effective Mental Health Care
Integrating behavioral health services into primary care is increasingly recognized by health care providers and payers as a powerful approach to mental health care, but even the most evidence-based approaches won’t deliver on their promise if they are not implemented effectively.
A new book, Integrated Care: Creating Effective Mental and Primary Health Care Teams, provides the first comprehensive guide for teams to integrate effective mental health care into primary care clinics. Edited by a team of UW Medicine mental health experts, it includes practical information, skills, and clinical approaches needed to implement collaborative care, an evidence-based model of integrated care developed at the University of Washington. Importantly, it provides a common resource and framework for all members of the care team including care managers, psychiatrists, primary care providers, and administrators. Editors include UW psychiatrists Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD; Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA; and the late Wayne Katon, MD; and UW psychologist Kari Stephens, PhD.
“The book draws upon our years of experience at the AIMS Center working with clinical practices dealing with real world challenges to clinical and team care applied in an integrated setting,” said Anna Ratzliff, Director of the UW Integrated Care Training Program and Associate Director for Education at the AIMS Center. “We took what we’ve learned from training over 5,000 clinicians and distilled in into a practical resource that informs teams how to provide clinical care for common mental health disorders. Integrated Care can be used as a guide for practices who want to set up an integrated care program and are just starting out, as well as a resource for teams already practicing collaborative care but want to be reminded of best practices.”
In collaborative care, primary care providers receive extensive support from a team that usually includes a trained behavioral health care manager and a psychiatric consultant who helps with patients who have a mental health and substance use diagnosis. This moves care from an acute care to more of a chronic care model, applying well-established principles of population-based chronic illness care. More than 80 studies have shown that collaborative care achieves the Triple Aim of Health Care Reform: improving access to care, improving health outcomes, and making the most cost-effective use of our existing health care workforce.
“Collaborative care is effective only if it is done well,” said Jürgen Unützer, Chair of the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the AIMS Center. “It takes a team of providers committed to measurement-based care and population-based care who are willing to collaborate and effectively share information. Integrated Care provides a roadmap to help teams do this well.”