In 2016, BBHC was awarded a one-year planning grant for Primary Care/Behavioral Health Integration initiative. This grant is overseen by Norma Wagner, Director of Operations/ System of Care. Integrating care is essential in addressing the healthcare needs of individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse diagnoses. It is a vital component in creating a healthy and conscious lifestyle for those affected by behavioral health issues. Failure to recognize and appropriately treat behavioral health conditions has a significant impact on health outcomes and costs: patients with these diagnoses use more medical resources, are more likely to be hospitalized for medical conditions, and are readmitted to the hospital more frequently. With these factors in mind, BBHC began the project with several community partners who were of the same mindset to achieve the desired outcome of treating clients as whole and not in separate silos.

In the first year of the grant BBHC coordinated with several providers throughout Broward County to establish partnerships that would enhance the daily lives of those who utilizes the service. These partners included Smith Community Mental Health, Henderson Behavioral Health, Care Resource, Broward Health, Memorial Regional Hospital, Archways, Chrysalis, Pediatric Associates, and Bayan Health. This Integrated Health Learning Community began the initial stage of setting up partnerships that would address the needs of the patient for both primary care and behavioral health challenges. This was achieved with the assistance of our consultants who utilized coaching calls, face to face meetings, and all day trainings that explained in detail what was expected, the outcomes and also the challenges of bringing together these two healthcare services. The first year concluded with success as it resulted in sharing of a psychiatrist between three partners, as well as the utilization of an Electronic Health Record (HER) sharing system that would be used between providers to coordinate healthcare efforts. These accomplishments showed that more needed to be done to ensure the continued success in the implementation of the project.

At the beginning of 2017 BBHC was awarded a one-year implementation grant that will continue the work that was started. In year two of this grant we expect to achieve more outcomes with a focus on specific health improvements. The first is to have 80 consumers in each primary care/behavioral health partnership participating in the project that will show a 50% improvement on their depression and/or substance abuse outcome measure, six months after initiating treatment. The second is 100 adult consumers in each partnership will show a 50% improvement in metabolic syndrome lab values (lipid, cholesterol and/or triglycerides) at the end of year 1 and a 50% improvement on BMI and Blood Pressure for 100 children and/or adolescents. The final outcome proposed is to have 50 individuals with HgA1C levels of 7 or more will show a reduction in levels by 2 points by the end of the first year.

Through the second phase of this initiative the teams will seek to overcome the barriers identified in the first phase as well as improve on the working relationships established. These barriers include challenges of competing priorities, challenges of working with IT vendors, and barriers presented by state rules and regulations. The working relationships will also be enhanced as the partnerships continue to become more knowledgeable about the partners through site visits and continual integration.