Mental Health Integration – How Intermountain brings mental health resources to doctor’s offices

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Mental health has a big effect on physical health – and vice versa. At Intermountain Healthcare, mental health integration (MHI) is an approach to healthcare that focuses on both. One team – led by your doctor – cares for your mental and physical health needs. And it all happens right in your doctor’s office.

Dr. Travis Mickelson is one such doctor who joined us in studio today. A psychiatrist at Intermountain Healthcare and medical director of the health system’s mental health integration initiative.

Overview of Mental Health Integration

How mental health integration works: Your doctor uses assessments to identify your need for mental health treatment. You, your doctor, and your team then work together to design the best treatment plan for you. Your plan balances your mental and your physical healthcare needs to treat your whole health. Services are provided by your doctor or another MHI team member in your doctor’s office. Team members communicate with each other to make sure you’re getting the care you need.

“The goal of our mental health integration approach at Intermountain is to treat the whole person,” says Mickelson “Our program allows people to receive the care they need so that they feel better. We developed a program for our teams to help people with their mental needs as we serve them medically. Our successful treatment models are now utilized in clinics all across the nation, so more people are healthier both physically and mentally.”

The Proven Benefits Mental Health Integration

A major new study in JAMA shows that delivering integrated mental and physical healthcare in team-based primary care settings at Intermountain Healthcare results in better clinical outcomes for patients, lower rates of healthcare utilization, and lower costs. 

The study was published in the August 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was accompanied by an editorial in JAMA that heralded the benefits of integrated mental health care.

The 10-year study – which is one of the largest studies of its kind – shows the benefits of care provided by team-based providers in an integrated delivery system. The study, which was conducted by Intermountain Healthcare researchers, measured 113,452 adult patients who received care from 2003 through 2013 in 113 primary care practices at Intermountain, including 27 team-based medical practices and 75 traditional practices. 

What are the results of the study (and the clinical benefits of team-based care)?

  • A dramatically higher rate of patients in team-based practices were screened for depression – which allowed care providers to provide medical and behavioral interventions earlier – compared to patients in traditional practices. 46.1 percent of patients in team-based practices were diagnosed with active depression compared to 24.1 percent in traditional practices.
  • 48.4 percent of patients in team-based practices had a documented self-care plan to help them manage their health conditions, compared to 8.7 percent in traditional practices.

Your Mental Health Integration Team

A mental health integration team may include the following caregivers:

  • You and your family: You’re the most important team member. You and your family work with your doctor to design the best care plan, and you take an active role in your own care. 
  • Your doctor: They are the team leader who recommends and explains a care plan, and then manages the plan with the help of your team.
  • Mental health provider: This teammate is a psychologist or social worker who provides counseling and talk therapy.
  • Care manager or health advocate: This is a nurse or medical assistant who keeps in touch with you, connects you with resources and care providers, and helps resolve problems.
  • Psychiatrist or psychiatric APRN: This team member is a doctor or nurse practitioner with special training in mental health treatment who consults on medications and complex emotional illnesses.

All team members communicate and work together. Because of this team effort, MHI has received high satisfaction and confidence ratings from patients, care providers, and clinic staff.

This article contains sponsored content.

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