ALASKA: The Doctor Will Analyze You Now

September 08, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  Alaska


While many Americans who need behavioral health care are not receiving it, a health care provider serving Native Alaskans has successfully integrated behavioral health care into its primary care practices for decades. In a survey of the community, the Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage found that the top five health care priorities were related to behavioral health, including child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and addiction. So, Southcentral reorganized to enable patients to receive care for behavioral health issues in conjunction with visits to their primary care provider, either from that provider or a behavioral health care clinician in the same practice. “We know that for tons and tons of people, stigma is a really big deal in behavioral health,” said Douglas Eby, Southcentral vice president of medical services. “But getting behavioral health [care] during your visit with your primary care provider, or by the guy down the hall, at the same place and maybe during the same visit—then it’s nothing different, and not likely to be stigmatized.” Between 2000 and 2015, hospital admissions and emergency department visits decreased by one third, which Southcentral administrators attribute to health care integration. In addition, a recent survey showed that 97 percent of patients were satisfied with their care.

Spark Extra! Visit the SAMHSA/HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions website.