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How we made a Center that Cares

June 02, 2017

Welcome to our blog, and to the UMass Chan Medical School Center for Integrated Primary Care (CIPCC).  We are a group of active clinicians (psychologists, physicians, social workers) and educators working on issues related to the integration of behavioral health into primary care medical practice.

CIPC blogOur founding director, Alexander Blount, EdD was working side by side with primary care providers at one of UMass Memorial’s primary care clinics.  He and his colleague, Ronald Adler, MD thought a lot about the demands that a busy family medicine focused clinic placed on traditionally trained psychologists.  Dr. Blount had identified the possibilities and promise of behavioral health in primary care in his 1998 work, Integrated Primary Care: The Future of Medical and Mental Health Collaboration, and his work at the Hahnemann Family Health Center in Worcester was proving that integration could work.  But behavioral health providers (psychologists, clinical social workers, and counselors) were being trained to provide traditional specialty mental health care, and Sandy recognized that primary care presented very different demands.

Embracing what was then cutting edge technology, Sandy launched a webinar to orient behavioral health providers to the culture of primary care, and addressed the issues of how to provide quick, efficient, and effective care for primary care’s complex and sometimes puzzling patients, those with chronic pain, substance use disorders, depression, or medically unexplained symptoms, and those who need to stop smoking, start exercising, or eat better.

The approach has remained the same over the years: have a dialogue between physicians and behavioral health professionals about the needs and possibilities of primary care behavioral health. But the curriculum has been refined and updated.

As integration efforts progressed, and the concept of a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) became part of national healthcare reform in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), topics like population health and care management came to the fore.  Our courses, all live webinars, expanded to include training for primary care Care Managers and intensive training in Motivational Interviewing.  The technology got updated, and over the past year and a half, we have transitioned from live webinars to online courses that can be viewed at any time.  We still provide live, online Q&A and practice sessions for our courses, because we are focused not only on training primary care teams, but we are also dedicated to supporting success in behavioral health integration. 

CIPC trainingWe have trained thousands of health professionals, and we continue to develop new course offerings. In 2016, Daniel Mullin, PsyD, MPH took over as director of the Center, and his involvement in major research efforts will continue to extend our activities anywhere that the intertwining of primary care and behavioral health can make a difference in the lives of patients.  Yes, we build courses, but we also work with healthcare systems, conduct research and publish, and teach in the Medical School and in communities from Alaska to Maine. 

Follow us as we explore topics we are interested in: from online workforce training to Medication Assisted Treatment.