UMass Medical School is leading the movement of integrating behavioral health into the care of patients in primary care settings. This summer, the new Center for Integrated Primary Care, directed by Dr. Alexander Blount, was established to serve as a national leader in preparing behavioral health and primary care providers for integration. The Center aims to synthesize and disseminate skills and best practices for the integration of behavioral healthcare and primary care so as to become a national leader in workforce development, to develop partnerships with and provide technical assistance to local and regional primary care departments and practices to support and train personnel for adding integration into clinical services, and to develop methodologies for evaluation of the effectiveness of models of integrated primary care.
The new Center for Integrated Primary Care will allow Dr. Blount and his colleagues to expand on the successful Certificate Program in Primary Care Behavioral Health with new programs aimed at training nurses and behavioral health providers in care management as well as training physicians to understand and address the behavioral health needs of patients. Also planned is a program for administrators to make the business case that integration of care is cost-effective, and therefore should be a part of the current transformation in primary care. Trainings such as these become particularly important as primary care prepares for and begins to implement the transformation to Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH). The Center will also act as a technical assistance service for clinics that wish to have a more in depth and personalized advice on how to best implement integration in their clinics. Finally, the Center will serve to contribute to the general body of knowledge on effective practices for integrations as well as on specific integrated interventions for providers and patients that can be implemented in primary care. The Center can be reached at CIPC@umassmed.edu.