2017 Behavioral Health/PCP coordination of care survey results

Each year Priority Health surveys PCPs and behavioral health providers to assess how care is coordinated between the two disciplines. Research shows that integration of primary care and behavioral health care improves health outcomes. The 2017 survey results indicate that, in general, collaboration improved between primary care providers and behavioral health providers compared to one year ago.

Notable improvements

Most improved are:

  • Attempts by mental health providers to collaborate with PCPs were 85% successful, up from 76% in 2016
  • When information was exchanged the information was clear, accurate, and relevant is now 85% of the time, as opposed to 75% in 2016. 

Other noteworthy improvements were that PCPs reported providing and receiving clinical information with mental health providers slightly more often than in 2016. However, exchanges via shared electronic health records are still low for both mental health providers and PCPs. 

Barriers to collaboration

Those surveyed noted barriers to collaboration as: 

  • Lack of time to collaborate; primary care providers are very busy and rarely able to communicate directly with a mental health provider
  • The patient does not sign a release to share two way communication
  • There are limited means to communicate across two health systems, paper systems and faxing are outside of modern electronic work flows 
  • Consults by phone are preferred but often don’t occur due to busy schedules
  • Lack of electronic means to view each other’s clinical notes
  • Lack of a standardized report to share with one another

Advanced medical homes in which behavioral health and primary care are fully integrated at one point of service are considered the best model of care to optimize coordination of care and improve health outcomes. Just 29% report they have such a model. 

Recommendations

We recommend the following to improve coordination:

  • Periodically survey your clients/patients about their perceptions of how well they feel you are doing in coordinating their care across the medical and behavioral health spectrum.
  • Update your work flow protocols to promote the exchange of information between providers.
  • Address both mental and physical health, as they are interdependent for improving health outcomes. 

Table of survey results

Provider survey question

2015

n=120
30% return rate

2016

n=245
35% return rate

2017

n=245
34% return rate

Change from 2016 to 2017

Behavioral health (BH) provider results

BH provider reported that their attempt to collaborate with the PCP was always/most of the time successful 69% 76% 85%
BH provider reported an electronic health record where medical and behavioral health practitioners can view each other's notes 44% 31% 36%
BH provider reported always/most of the time providing client clinical information to the PCP 43% 39% 40%
BH provider reported providing clinical information upon initial assessment and whenever treatment plan changed 38% 31% 31%
BH provider reported that when they received clinical information from the PCP it was always/most of the time sufficient (clear, accurate, relevant) Not asked 75% 85%

Primary care provider results

PCP reported offering behavioral health services at their practice Not asked 35% 29%
PCP reported an electronic health record that allows medical and behavioral health practitioners to view each other's notes 19% 18% 16%
PCP reported always/most of the time providing health information regarding a patient to BH provider 32% 26% 32%
PCP reported always/most of the time receiving relevant clinical information from BH provider 24% 24% 26%
PCP reported that when they received clinical information from the BH provider it was always/usually sufficient (clear, accurate, relevant) 49% 48% 52%