behavioral health integration

Behavioral Health – Primary Care Integration Partnerships: Create Empowerment

According to

“Management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance. It is based on the concept of giving employees the skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well as holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions.” 

Some of the most successful companies in the world understand the added-value of empowering their employees (think Starbucks or Ritz-Carlton). After reading the definition from, it begs the question of why ANY company would not insist on the promotion of employee empowerment.


Champions at all levels promote success
The success of a partnership between a primary care organization and a behavioral health organization for the provision of integrated service delivery is dependent on the involvement of everyone from the onset. This requires empowering champions at all levels to move the mission forward and create accountability.  Not only is it important for the people at the top to believe in the project, it is even more important for the people who will be providing the services, coordinating the flow, scheduling the appointments, etc. to be empowered to do whatever is necessary to make sure that the clients get the service they require and deserve. This empowerment promotes buy-in among staff. The level of commitment that the members of the team have determines whether a project succeeds or not.  

Encourage communication…don’t shoot the messenger
Communicating with everyone and soliciting feedback ensures ongoing focus on the mission. Be sure to create a forum that allows both positive and negative feedback. Many promising endeavors have failed because the front line staff were not encouraged to share observations of trends or occurrences that were early indicators of problems. Frequent communication among everyone on the team is vital. Management, clinicians, and support staff from both organizations should be included in meetings, emails, and conference calls that allow and encourage an exchange of information and ideas among everyone. In addition, frequent treatment team meetings with clinicians from each organization will ensure an integrated approach for the services provided.

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.


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