The psychiatric consultant supports the PCP and behavioral health care manager (BHCM) in treating patients with behavioral health problems. This role can be performed by any psychiatric expert who can assist the primary care team diagnosis, treatment planning and recommendations about changes in treatment when the patient is not at least 50% improved after 10-12 weeks on any given treatment plan. The psychiatric consultant may suggest treatment modifications for the PCP to consider, recommend the PCP see the patient for an in-person consultation, or consult on patients who are clinically challenging or who need specialty mental health services. The consultant does not see the patient, except in rare circumstances, and does not prescribe medications. The psychiatric consultant is available to the BHCM and the PCP during business hours for ad hoc consultation as needed.
Some skills that may be new to psychiatric consultants include:
- treating patients without seeing them
- making a treatment plan in a short amount of time and with limited information
- thinking about the treatment needs of a population of patients
Organizations will need around 0.075 FTE (3 hours per week) of psychiatric consultant time to assist each full-time or nearly full-time BHCM to manage a full caseload. Please refer to the AIMS Center's Guidelines for Behavioral Health Care Manager Caseload Size for more information to plan staff resources.
Concerned about liability issues? View a Resource Document on Risk Management and Liability Issues in Integrated Care Models and an example disclaimer for psychiatric consultants.
For an in-depth look at the role of a psychiatric consultant, read our psychiatric consultant profile.