COMMUNICATION: The Second Key Component of a Successful Behavioral Health – Primary Care Marriage

The next key component of a successful Behavioral Health – Primary Care Marriage focuses on Communication.

Early Phase: THE HONEYMOON

In the early days of the partnership, the Honeymoon phase, there is a distinct tendency toward assuming that both partners are speaking the same language and are working toward the same goals. The excitement of the new endeavor and the synergy created initially helps to move things along at a rapid pace. When the behavioral health partner talks about workflow and scheduling appointments, there is little thought given to the fact that these two concepts have VERY different meanings for the primary care provider. It is important to have a thorough review of operations from both perspectives and to find a viable middle-ground that both partners find acceptable. Making open, frequent communication a priority from the onset will prevent problems later on.  This should include a thorough overview of each organization’s regulatory, financial, and operational processes as well as overall mission. Don’t assume that the two partners really understand how each other’s organization functions.

Problems within the Partnership (AKA THE HONEYMOON IS OVER!)

If the partners neglect to develop an open culture of communication on the front end, it is likely that miscommunication will develop.

The Honeymoon phase is in jeopardy.

The entrepreneurial partner fails to understand the ongoing delays from the partner with the extensive bureaucratic approval process that prevents a quick turnaround of virtually everything. As misunderstandings develop into disappointments and resentments, the previous harmony is disrupted.

The Honeymoon is over.

Internal conflicts must be addressed immediately with candor. This is a good time to have an open conversation about all the aforementioned points and develop a plan for ongoing, frequent communication. Concerns about the great divide over productivity targets, outcome measures, and caseloads must be openly discussed, among other important points of contention.

By devoting the necessary focus on the importance of Communication, the partnership will successfully transition to the third key component for a successful behavioral health – primary care marriage, Compromise. The shared mission to reduce health disparities for the individuals served who suffer from comorbid behavioral health and medical conditions will persevere.

However, failure to make this transition may very well land this promising partnership into divorce court.

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8 comments on “COMMUNICATION: The Second Key Component of a Successful Behavioral Health – Primary Care Marriage

  1. Judy Nye says:

    This is great Cheryl. Love the analogy “Primary Care Marriage”. Appropriate communication is so important in everything and being aware of how others are hearing us. Have you read any of The Five Love Languages books?

    • Cheryl Holt says:

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks for reading my blog! I have heard so many people refer to the “marriage” of behavioral health and primary care when they partner together for integrated care that I thought I would use the analogy. I agree with you that communication is so important…in any type of relationship.
      I am not familiar with the books you mentioned. Do you recommend them?
      It’s great to hear from you. I hope that you and your family are doing well.
      Take care,
      Cheryl

  2. Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  3. [...] and primary care marriages to be effective, there are four components that are necessary. Vision, Communication, and Compromise have been explored in previous posts. The final component, derived from the first [...]

  4. [...] first three essential components of a behavioral health – primary care marriage, Vision, Communication, and Compromise,  the final component builds and maintains the mature partnership for growing old [...]

  5. [...] the plan is rendered moot. The actual partnership itself is taken for granted after the initial honeymoon phase. This is a grave mistake for true [...]

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