The presence of integrated mental health care in the primary care settings can be inconsistent. Patients often do not know where to go for care, are concerned about costs associated, or a fear of lack of coverage through existing health plans and social stigma. Similarly, safety net providers in the Chicago area confirm many of the challenges described above, as well as lack of training opportunities in better identification of symptoms, lack of access to behavioral health providers at their organization, and patient adherence issues. Collaborative care is a type of integrated health care that treats common mental health conditions in the primary care setting. It is a type of care that has been shown to have improved mental health symptoms over the usual care model. The primary care provider and behavioral health staff can work in conjunction to develop a shared care plan for patients, incorporating patient goals for treatment. This coordination of services can have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life, eliminating the need for separate assessments. Collaborated care also benefits the health system through increased capacity and improved quality of care. The ECHO-Chicago Behavioral Health Integration curriculum, based on the collaborative care model, will enhance access to mental health care for patients and lead to an improved patient experience through a coordinated effort between primary care providers and behavioral health providers to facilitate system changes to integrate behavioral health in primary care.
Doriane Miller, M.D. is the Behavioral Health Integration series facilitator for ECHO-Chicago. She is Director of the Center for Community Health and Vitality and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. She has been providing care to under-served minority populations for more than 20 years in her role as a primary care physician with a special interest in behavioral health. Dr. Miller’s research focuses on the intersection of health disparities and race and she has served as the project director for several studies designed to augment care by promoting collaboration among physicians, patients, and families. Prior to her work here, Dr. Miller served as national program director of New Health Partnerships, a demonstration project funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California Health Care Foundation on collaborative self-management support.