Integrated healthcare is quickly becoming a worldwide trend in healthcare reform. By focusing on the whole body rather than just the symptoms a person is experiencing, doctors are finding better ways to treat their patients. New organizations are focusing on more coordinated and integrated parts of healthcare.
This solution is a response to the dependent forms of care that most patients receive. Integrated care is the coordination of a general physician and behavioral physician to meet on the same page. Integrating mental health and primary care sources produces the best outcome for the patient and proves to be the most effective way to care for people with many healthcare needs.
The increase in medical and behavioral health integration is creating opportunities for mental health physicians to provide different forms of therapy for their patients and their families.
By planning care that requires physicians and interdisciplinary professionals to work together to understand a patient’s health concerns and issues, it allows for the best delivery of services as well as the best overall outcome for the patient. Here are some upcoming integrated healthcare trends to look out for:
Changes to the Current Medical System
Integrated healthcare combines primary healthcare and mental health care in one place. Sometimes this can be referred to as “collaborative care.” This is important because primary care physicians provide roughly half of all mental health care for common disorders. On the flip side, people with common physical health conditions tend to have a higher rate of mental health issues.
In 1979, the United States Surgeon General Report favored integrated healthcare, helping to launch the importance of collaboration among healthcare professionals. This document led to significant changes that were enacted by the Affordable Care Act. Since many mental health physicians do not ask patients about their physical health when they present behavioral issues, a gap of knowledge forms.
Insurance companies have climbed on board with this changing healthcare trend as well. By offering PCP plans, they require a primary care physician to oversee a patients medical care. Referrals, medication changes, and updates are all filtered through a primary care physician to ensure that the patient receives the best quality of integrated care.
Integrating of care does not necessarily mean that there is a merging of roles. For example, a physician does not serve as a nurse or even behavioral health professional. The mix of various medical professionals allows for a beneficial integration of care. There is a huge need in our medical system to address the behavioral issues that contribute to chronic health conditions. Thankfully, a policy like the Affordable Care Act has helped to move this forward.
Interprofessional education, which requires students to learn alongside healthcare professionals from disciplines they are not pursuing, serves as a way to improved patient care and is quickly becoming a requirement for many healthcare students. APA’s latest accreditation standards require doctoral students to be familiar with interprofessional interaction with behavioral health physicians during their academic career.
Psychology has been a slower discipline to get on board with this type of training because it is such a diverse field. These days universities are offering training opportunities for practitioners, including federally funded programs that offer training for thousands of psychology professionals.
Digital Healthcare Integration
The demand for a more digital workspace has continued to increase the productivity and mobile options available. Digital healthcare helps to expand medical treatment beyond the doctor’s office and operating hours. Through a more digital platform, doctors can check on their patient’s progress without the need to actually meet with them in person. Through these types of platforms, convenience and productivity of care increase.
Adopting new technologies to respond to new challenges is important, especially when we now face threats to healthcare data. Electronic health record (EHR) platforms allow for a secure and care-focused way for physicians to maintain and organize their patient records while maintaining HIPAA law. Making sure health information is protected is important. Anything that can be used to identify a patient like a name, date of birth, healthcare information, Social Security number, address, phone number, etc. should be protected. By using an EHR platform, patients and other integrated physicians have the opportunity to access the information without compromising and HIPPA regulations.
Technology affects healthcare in some of the best ways possible. With an increase of integrated telemedicine services, electronic medical records, and mobile applications allows for both healthcare providers and patients to enjoy the benefits. Information technology in the healthcare field has introduced doctors to new equipment to use like telecommunication technology, allowing doctors to connect with their patients who could be thousands of miles away.
By providing integrated healthcare, both patient, and provider benefit. This type of care blends the expertise of mental health, primary care clinicians, substance use professionals while listening to feedback from patients. This creates a team approach that offers healthcare and mental health care in the same setting. By utilizing an integrated healthcare program, it can help address the physical health problems of people with mental illnesses better. Coordinating primary care and mental health care in this way can help address the physical health problems of people with serious mental illnesses.