Earlier in August, a local healthcare provider stepped up their game by introducing behavioural health services.
Flagstaff Family Care Clinic, located at 710 N Beaver Street, has become a behavioral health provider in an effort to improve primary patient care and treatment options.
Last year, Arizona’s Medicare program, called Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, developed a grant specifically for primary care facilities to integrate behavioral health services into their practices. In total, 96 recipients received portions of the $300 million set aside for this grant funding, and Flagstaff Family Care was the only local practice to be selected for funding.
With this money, the clinic decided to partner with EvolveMD, a company based in Scottsdale that specializes in collaborative care and combining primary care with behavioral health services. EvolveMD develops implementation plans for combined practices, secures managers and providers, and continues to monitor the program once the new services are introduced.
EvolveMD uses the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model, which was developed by University of Washington researchers in the late 1990s. This model focuses on enhancing primary care by adding two essential services: regular psychiatric inter-specialty consultation with the primary care team, especially in regards to patients whose conditions aren’t improving, and care management support for patients in behavioral health treatment.
As an independent physician, it was important for Flagstaff Family Care Clinic to approach this new funding opportunity carefully. With this new team-based approach, the primary care physicians and the behavioral health providers can work together to better serve patients.
Now, care clinic staff are assessing patients during appointments for behavioral health concerns. If they notice something that needs further evaluation or attention, the primary care provider will recommend the patient to see the behavioral health specialist. Some of these appointments can be same-day.
The behavioral health provider will meet with the patient and assess their needs before creating a treatment plan that will be approved by a behavioral health care manager. This will be taken to the primary physician for discussion of medication recommendations and any other concerns.
This sort of process has become more popular in the medical field, as medical officials emphasise the close relationship between physical concerns and behavioral health. Similar integration programs have been used at Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente primary care centers for years.
Flagstaff residents should know that behavioral health treatment is billed the same way as primary care appointments, considering they both take place in the same facility. They should also know that other insurance companies have joined Medicare in signing on to cover patient behavioral health services.
At Flagstaff Family Care Clinic, staff are hoping that the integration of primary care and behavioral health will help to minimize the stigma attached to mental illness, therapy and counselling. Because patients are already at the doctor for regular appointments, they are more likely to seek the help they really need.
So far, the program has received positive feedback. Learn more by visiting the official website of the Flagstaff Family Care Clinic HERE.