Every relationship follows a similar pattern. The early phase begins with the selection of a partner. The same holds true for the integrated behavioral health and primary care partnership. It may begin with running into each other at a meeting. Or perhaps while reading the lastest report on the emerging trend of healthcare integration, Accountable Care Organizations, health homes, etc…
The Vision begins to form
The behavioral health and primary care clinics enter into the dating relationship when the leaders of each, who have mutual admiration for each other, begin to recognize the potential of doing business together. One leader calls the other, suggesting they get together for lunch. It’s only lunch, he rationalizes to himself, it doesn’t mean anything…there’s no harm just in talking….
One thing leads to another during the wooing and courting phase; soon the idea transitions and the outline of a plan begins to emerge. The two leaders have entered the early stages of the partnership. The Vision is being created, becoming a driving force for each.
The two organizations soon find themselves having serious discussions about forming a partnership. How did THIS happen?? The proposal is followed with a flurry of planning. There are so many details! Attorneys are kept busy creating a business plan and reviewing financial and regulatory documents, planning for the wedding of two organizations. Decisions must be made of how the assets are to be shared. Finances are sorted, MOUs are signed, and the partnership is official.
The marriage of behavioral health and primary care creates a unique entity that is far greater together than either had, or could have been, alone.
The early stage of the partnership is filled with excitement as the Vision takes shape and becomes reality. The shared vision is driven by the passion to become what neither can achieve alone. The specialty behavioral health provider and the primary care provider have integrated, raising the bar of healthcare for people with behavioral health disorders.
This marriage of healthcare providers is based on a Vision shared by two of eliminating the health disparities of people who suffer from serious mental illness and substance use disorders.
Next time we will explore the second key component of a successful behavioral health and primary care marriage: Communication.