December 18, 2019

PCDC Issues Recommendations on ‘Closing the Behavioral Health Integration Gap’

The Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) has identified five recommendations for integrating primary care into behavioral health in New York State, as part of a case study for providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Funded in part by the New York State Health Foundation, “Closing the Behavioral Health Integration Gap” proposes simplifying integrated facility requirements, establishing integrated systems to share patient information, and promoting a collaborative team-based approach to care, among other steps.

“While the call to integrate behavioral health and primary care to better serve patients has resonated widely, there are still significant barriers to successful, widespread implementation,” said Andrew Philip, Ph.D., Senior Director of Clinical and Population Health at PCDC. “This report serves as a framework for change.”

To date, coordination between primary care and behavioral health providers has been limited. Primary care providers reach only a fraction of those requiring services for depression, anxiety, and other common behavioral health conditions; meanwhile, those living with serious mental illness (SMI), who are often seen in behavioral health settings, typically lack access to adequate primary care:

  • One in five people have a mental illness and five percent of the adult population have a serious mental illness (SMI)
  • Individuals living with SMI have higher rates of both acute and chronic medical conditions
  • Adults with SMI die approximately eight years earlier than those without, most often due to treatable medical conditions
  • Cost of care for individuals with co-morbid behavioral and physical health conditions can be 60-75 percent higher than for those without mental health conditions

The report features a profile of the East New York Hub, an integrated care project of the Institute for Community Living (ICL) and Community Healthcare Network (CHN), for which PCDC served as a primary financer. Also informing the recommendations were interviews with a range of behavioral health and primary care providers as well as policymakers.

“With each organization that integrates services, more is learned about the path to blending models, developing sustainable fiscal infrastructure, and delivering high-quality coordinated care,” Dr. Philip said.

Learn more about the case study and PCDC’s Primary Care Summit