The integration of behavioral health (BH) and primary care services has been the subject of considerable attention for almost a decade. Such work has been motivated by the prevalence of chronic health problems in persons with BH conditions and correspondingly high rates of early death. Service integration efforts typically included cross-referral or bidirectional efforts to add some features of primary care to specialty BH settings or the reverse. This article pro- poses a third approach based on full service and financial integration and shows how it differs substantially from the other 2 models.
This new model has the potential to bring much-needed BH services to persons served in primary care settings who have these conditions, while fostering integrated services in specialty settings for those with the most severe mental or substance use conditions. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could provide a valuable opportunity to implement this third model.
Ann Intern Med. 2014;160:61-65.