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August 23/30, 2016

Integrated Behavioral and Primary Care: What Is the Real Cost?

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Reno
JAMA. 2016;316(8):822-823. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.11031

The recognition more than 30 years ago that most patients with mental illness received care in medical settings rather than mental health settings led to an increasing focus on the integration of mental health care in primary care settings.1 Beginning with the simple addition of mental health professionals to primary care offices, these models progressed to the training of primary care clinicians to provide basic problem-focused psychotherapy, the availability of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in the office to consult with and mentor primary care clinicians, more sophisticated patient registries that allowed the assessment and monitoring of mental health care, and collaborative care models that have become standard in some large integrated health systems.1-3 Each step in this evolution has shown improved mental health outcomes and associated cost savings. These integrated models have also demonstrated some early success in improving the care of chronic medical diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, which are also often present among patients with mental illness.4

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