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What strategies successfully integrate behavioral health care with primary care?

Disseminating research through the AHRQ's Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care

Challenge

Behavioral and physical health conditions are often connected by increasing the likelihood of co-occurring disorders, worsening symptoms, and complicating treatment. Yet, these conditions are often treated separately, as the current health care system silos behavioral health and medical services, integrating behavioral health care with primary care can increase access to treatment and improve patient outcomes.

To meet this need, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has established the Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care (AHRQ Academy), a national resource center that disseminates news, resources, and research about integration. AHRQ selected Westat for the third cycle to develop, enhance, and support this online portal.

Solution

Westat has developed products to advance integration of behavioral health care with primary care, including:

  • A lexicon: A set of concepts and definitions that provide a practical definition of behavioral health integration
  • Literature collection: A searchable database of grey and peer-reviewed literature
  • Two playbooks: These playbooks provide guidance to providers interested in (1) integrating behavioral health and (2) implementing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) into primary care or other ambulatory care settings
  • Set of competencies and stories: Examples of successful, professional best practices
  • Environmental scan: Information on the challenges and strategies on implementing MAT
  • Tools collection: Tools for implementing MAT for OUD

Results

By sharing practical strategies and lessons learned from those in the field, the work of the AHRQ Academy aims to increase access to and improve the quality of evidence-based integrated behavioral care.

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