APA members discuss benefits of integrated health care on Capitol Hill
Several APA members outlined advantages of integrating
mental and behavioral health services into primary care at an
Oct. 16 congressional briefing sponsored by the Collaborative
Family Healthcare Association and the Robert Graham Center
for Policy Studies in Family Medicine.
• Benjamin Miller, PsyD, director of health policy
and assistant professor, department of family medicine,
University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, shared
epidemiological data that showed most cases of adult
depression and anxiety are treated in primary care, and that the
combination of depression and common physical disorders,
such as diabetes, is one of the major causes of increased health
care costs in America.
• Parinda Khatri, PhD, chief clinical officer at Cherokee
Health Systems in Tennessee, addressed how integrating mental
health services within primary care is the most practical way to
advance a patient’s health, which can reduce hospitalizations
and emergency visits, all resulting in decreased costs.
• Susan McDaniel, PhD, APA president-elect and
professor of psychiatry and family medicine, University
of Rochester McDaniel pointed out the need for a new
approach to training health care professionals to work on
interprofessional teams. McDaniel outlined how training
funds from existing federal programs could be used for
this purpose and how health education loan repayment
programs could be used to place integrated care in rural and
In addition, Patrick Gordon, a fiscal analyst from Rocky
Mountain Health Plans, explained how the integrated approach
improves patient health, and how healthier patients use fewer
services, thus decreasing costs.
The briefing identified the challenges facing training, health-care delivery and financing that hinder the implementation of
integrated care, and highlighted the gains large clinics have seen
using this model.
“This information suggests that in the current environment
of health system change, the time is right to advance integrated
care as the most effective means to improve health,” said Doug
Tynan, PhD, director of integrated health care with APA’s
Center for Psychology and Health.