November 1, 2021
Two health plans share their experiences implementing Collaborative Care in a recent article in Psychiatric News. More than eighty published studies have shown that the Collaborative Care Model CoCM lowers the cost of care and results in better patient outcomes. While implementation of CoCM continues to gain momentum nationally, widescale implementation remains slow. The reasons for this include the challenges with implementing any practice change in the busy world of primary care, the start-up costs associated with implementing CoCM before a full caseload is realized and the program is self-supporting, and behavioral health workforce shortages.
To alleviate these barriers, Psychiatric News interviewed medical directors from two health insurance plans that have taken the reins to help primary care practices transition to CoCM by providing training, coaching, provider incentives, and access to CoCM vendors, one of which includes an AIMS Center project: Premera.
“Spurred by a significant shortage of mental health clinicians in its vast two-state territory of Washington and Alaska, Premera Blue Cross is investing $10 million for up to 30 rural primary care clinics to implement collaborative care. The AIMS Center at the University of Washington is providing training, coaching, and oversight for the practices.”
“”It’s the right thing to do,” Susanne Quistgaard, M.D., medical director of Provider Customer Engagement at Premera Blue Cross, said of the grants. “We care about the communities we serve.” The AIMS Center will train up to 10 practices at a time, and the first group of PCPs began using CoCM in their practices about a year ago. They have enrolled more than 1,300 patients in treatment thus far.”
Health Plans Promote Collaborative Care