New initiative to improve link between primary care and behavioral health care

A collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the GE Foundation and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is seeking to help primary care providers better identify and manage behavioral health disorders among their patients, reports Politico.

Using video conferencing technology, primary care physicians will consult with UNM academic health specialists on a weekly basis regarding their patients who present with complex mental health needs. With physicians better equipped to manage behavioral health care, patients outcomes may be more likely to improve.

Sanjeev Arora, professor at UNM Health Sciences Center, told Politico:

“So much of good health care involves personal behavioral change, what we call patient activation. And a personal relationship between the provider and a patient are so important for patient activation — patients build on that relationship to get better. So when we concentrate all the care at the place of the primary-care doctor, what happens is that the chances of a better outcome are dramatically better.”

The project has been launched in New Mexico, but if the model proves successful could spread nationwide.