behavioral health integration

Behavioral Health – Primary Care Integration Partnerships: Determining Expectations

The majority of integrated partnership failures occur due to irreconcilable differences.  This step focuses on the sensitive issue of the compromise on expectations.

This fifth installment of vital steps for creating a successful behavioral health – primary care partnership, has been adapted from “Strategies to Preserve Public-Private Partnership ‘Best Practices’: Keys to Genuine Collaboration” by Greg Schmieg and Bob Climko, MD, Behavioral Health Management May/June1998. Vol. 18 . No. 3.  


This step addresses the issue of the expected outcomes for the partnership, building upon the shared mission:

What results do you expect from the partnership?

Do your expectations coalesce with those of your partner?

Compromise is in order at this juncture. Chances are good that each partner will agree on some things, but not on all things. The most successful of partnerships will devote adequate time and energy at this point to identify mutually agreed upon expectations and how results will be measured. The partnership creates enhanced outcome opportunities. Open communication on an ongoing basis helps to keep everyone on track. Internal conflicts are inevitable and should be discussed openly. The partners must address differences of opinions on an ongoing basis to prevent resentments from building.

Partnerships create an opportunity for enhanced outcomes through blending of resources to maximize the capacity of each organization. The result is a synergy far greater than the individual components. The integrated behavioral health – primary care partnership is far more effective and powerful than the single behavioral health or primary care clinic.  Addressing all healthcare needs of the individual yields benefits that far exceed treatment focused only on behavioral health or primary care concerns.

Once the data elements are identified, collect a baseline before starting. The project should first be piloted to allow for evaluation and for adjusting expectations to further clarify the outcomes to be measured. Re-evaluate and respond. Time devoted to this process at the beginning will save considerable time, energy, and frustration further along in the project. With a solid framework of data elements, baseline, and data collection processes in place, outcome measurement will be easy to accomplish. Outcomes that are meaningful to the mission of the partnership will provide the guidance necessary for ongoing success.

behavioral health integration

Behavioral Health – Primary Care Integration Partnerships: The Value of Shared Solutions

The next step in the process of developing a successful behavioral health – primary care integrated partnership, is developing  shared solutions for the partnership. This is adapted from “Strategies to Preserve Public-Private Partnership ‘Best Practices’: Keys to Genuine Collaboration” by Greg Schmieg and Bob Climko, MD, Behavioral Health Management May/June 1998. Vol. 18 . No. 3.


When behavioral health and primary care organizations collaborate to provide integrated services, it is very important to develop shared solutions for success in the endeavor. For a partnership to meet the needs of all partners, the decision-making must be shared. The decision makers must be open to new ideas and problem solving. 

One of the most difficult tasks in a partnership is bringing two disparate organizations together, asking them to compromise for the good of the relationship.  All stakeholders traditionally are in favor of creating a shared solution… long as they aren’t the ones who are asked to make the change. This step requires taking the time to explore the areas in which the partners can make adjustments versus the areas that require strict adherence to the regulations of the organization.

This step in the partnership requires time to come to an agreement. Negotiations may take some time, but are worth the investment.  Everyone must have skin in the game. During the process of negotiating, the ideal end result will develop from compromise among all partners. Patience and understanding are vital at this point and will ultimately result in a shared solution if the partnership is viable. Shared solutions maximize organizational efficiency and capacity. It helps to avoid the “blame game”.

Healthy partnerships result from both give and take on the part of all partners. Compromise is important for the success of the partnership.  Partners have much more invested in the successful outcome when there is agreement on the ultimate mission.