Integrated care has been a big buzzword lately, today Jim Kuemmerle, Jefferson Center’s manager of integrated care and care coordination, explains it a little more on our Mental Health Matters blog.

coalition handsOne of the constant challenges within the healthcare field is how to serve patients better – more effective and efficiently. Healthcare cost increases have consistently outpaced overall inflation, making controlling the costs a continuing struggle. One of the most recent healthcare innovations has been integrated healthcare. But what is this? Basically, it’s treating the entire person – mind and body – breaking down healthcare “silos” which tend to be uncoordinated and more expensive. (Think: going to one organization to see your physician, another for your allergist and a third for your therapist.)

The delivery of integrated healthcare can look differently depending on the organization and location. It can be as straightforward as having physical care and behavioral health co-located, where administrative and treatment processes are integrated. The benefit of having integrated administrative and treatment processes is that it improves outcomes and leads to more coordinated and cost-effective care.

There is flexibility with how an integrated healthcare model is developed. It can be located within a primary care or behavioral health setting. Here at Jefferson Center, we have both models. Some of the integrated healthcare settings are based at our locations and some are based out of our primary care partner, STRIDE Community Health Center. Integrated healthcare brings other resources to the table other than primary and behavioral healthcare. Health wellness coaching, peer specialists, employment specialists, an onsite pharmacy and intensive case managers are additional resources available to patients.

With this many moving pieces, successfully coordinating clients’ care is essential. To assist with coordinating healthcare, there are weekly interdisciplinary treatment team meetings which are facilitated by a healthcare coordinator. This leads to the creation of a coordinated care plan that outlines overall health goals for an individual. At the end of the day, a client can come to a Jefferson Center location to receive behavioral care, physical care, wellness coaching, pharmacy consulting and more. A one-stop healthcare shop, if you will.

The initial data analysis is showing positive results that are truly twofold. First, individuals tend to see an overall improvement in their health. Second, the coordination and integration of healthcare is leading to financial savings. As more data is gathered, more analysis will be completed to further understand the impact of delivering healthcare in this fashion.

One thing is certain: integrated care is here to stay and Jefferson Center is dedicated to providing the best care to our clients. We are continuously working on expanding our integrated care services and partnering with organizations to help our clients better manage the, oftentimes cumbersome, healthcare system.