Improving Integrated Behavioral Health in Rhode Island

Tufts Health Plan Funds Three Initiatives With a Focus on Patient-Centered Medical Homes within Primary Care Practices

With a commitment to integrated behavioral health and the importance of the patient-centered medical home model for primary care in Rhode Island, Tufts Health Plan has funded three projects in the state. The projects, which will be implemented in 2015, are designed to test strategies for increasing patient access to behavioral health services within primary care settings.

The patient-centered medical home is a model for providing comprehensive primary health care for children, youth and adults. It integrates patients as active participants in their health and utilizes a physician-led medical team approach, which takes place at a medical office. All aspects of a patient’s care are coordinated, increasing the use of preventive care and regular screenings and supporting people with diabetes, depression and other chronic diseases.

“Research supports that patients will experience better access to mental health services if offered in a primary care setting,” said Dr. David Brumley, senior medical director, Tufts Health Plan. “Our hope is that these projects will help strengthen how primary care practices can improve their abilities to respond to patients’ needs for behavioral health interventions and address some of the significant issues facing Rhode Island residents, such as substance abuse, depression and anxiety disorders.”

To support the evolution and effectiveness of the patient-centered medical home, Tufts Health Plan funded the following three projects designed by the Care Transformation Collaborative of Rhode Island, the umbrella organization of patient-centered medical homes (formerly known as the Rhode Island Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative (CSI-RI)):

  • Implementing education and training to improve the capacity of primary care staff to provide integrated behavioral health services
  • Expanding web-based referrals and care coordination to improve Rhode Island’s behavioral health referral network for primary care providers to refer patients for behavioral health specialist or addiction disorder specialist appointments
  • Accessing technology tools for behavior change to improve patient engagement in making healthier lifestyle choices through interactive website applications
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