behavioral health integration

Behavioral Health – Primary Care Integration Partnerships: Measure Outcomes


The value of shared outcomes
It should be no surprise to either behavioral health nor primary care partner that measuring outcomes is important. Each organization has a number of metrics that are tracked routinely.  Measuring outcomes of the integrated partnership are just as important. These outcomes should be jointly agreed upon early in the project. Periodic re-evaluation of the outcomes is beneficial to assuring that they remain relevant to each partner. Be prepared to modify as needed.

Identifying outcomes to be measured and faithfully tracking them provides the necessary data for the organizations’ decision makers. The data serves to demonstrate the effectiveness to others as well as for use in securing additional funding in the future.  Outcome measures need not be expensive or overly complicated. The important thing is to be consistent.

Measuring the benefits of the partnership 
The integrated behavioral – health primary care partnership is far greater than the sum of its parts. The synergistic effect of the partnership results in enhancing the lives of the individuals served to a degree that cannot be matched by either organization alone. Treating the hypertension of a person who also suffers from schizophrenia has a far greater impact that in treating either of the comorbid disorders separately. Measuring the outcomes clearly demonstrates the value of the partnership and the significant impact on the life of the individuals served. While most healthcare professionals are driven by the day to day intrinsic value of helping, successes identified in objective reports serve as further motivation to dedicated members of the team.

There is a clear benefit in having fewer services that must be duplicated when the behavioral health and the primary care is provided separately. When exams and diagnostic tests are done by one provider, there is considerable cost savings. Tracking these savings will demonstrate the added value of the partnership.

Quality of life and client satisfaction surveys are effective ways of determining the value that is provided through the collaborative approach to treatment.

It is not enough to feel that you are doing a good job when it comes to demonstrating success. Through measuring the value of services provided in an integrated behavioral health – primary care partnership, the value of the partnership can be indicated in undisputable terms.

This is the last in the series of steps for a successful behavioral health – primary care partnership. These eight steps have 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:

  1. Establishing the Mission of the Partnership
  2. Identifying a Common Language
  3. Maintain Pacing, Flexibility, and Capacity
  4. The Value of Shared Solutions
  5. Determining Expectations
  6. Delegate Trust
  7. Create Empowerment
  8. Measure Outcomes

3 thoughts on “Behavioral Health – Primary Care Integration Partnerships: Measure Outcomes

  1. Cheryl – Thank you for a good post on an important topic. You and others might be interested in the work the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative has done regarding metrics for integrated behavioral health.

    You can find information at At the left of the homepage, under Topics, click on “Behavioral Health” and then on the BH page click on “Services and Tools for Integration” in the box title “Behavioral Health in the Medical Home.”


    1. Hi Phil,
      Thanks for your comment. I agree that measuring outcomes is vital to successful collaborations. Also, thanks for the link to the PCPCC website. It is a wealth of information!

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