When your behavioral health and primary care integration partnership has worked through the preliminary groundwork for integrating services (click here for more information on planning), it’s time for preparing for the delivery of the services. The detailed outline created in earlier steps becomes your business plan. The plan serves as a map of the partnership’s goals and provides direction for delivering services.
Formalizing the partnership
When two organizations are collaborating for providing integrated services, it’s important to understand the legal and regulatory requirements. Working through this process should include consultation with an attorney. The following resources provide additional information for consideration:
- The Commonwealth Fund’s report, Assessing and Addressing Legal Barriers to the Clinical Integration of Community Health Centers and Other Community Providers
- The “Dos” and “Don’ts” of Contracting for Behavioral Health Services, published by the National Association of Community Health Centers, Inc.
- Enhancing the Continuum of Care: Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care through Affiliations with FQHCs, published by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
Once the legalities have been addressed, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, Business Associates Agreement, etc., it’s (finally!) time to establish a start date and prepare for the delivery of the much needed services. The preliminary work, though tedious at times, was necessary to ensure the success of service delivery.
Careful planning is the hallmark of successful healthcare integration!
Through the careful planning of the behavioral health and primary care providers, they are ready to offer services in a more holistic manner. With co-morbid behavioral and physical health conditions more often the rule rather than the exception, the newly integrated services enable the team to provide much more comprehensive care coordination in this behavioral health and primary care marriage than either partner could have done independently. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts!
Once the equipment and supplies are in place, staff training is completed, and the start date has been announced to internal and external referral sources, it’s time to celebrate!
Celebrating important milestones is very important for ongoing success. It is an opportunity to strengthen relations among the healthcare integration team. Also, celebrating milestones is a valuable opportunity for leaders to re-energize their employees around the partnership’s Strategic Objectives by thanking the people who helped make the achievements happen.
Though things won’t always be harmonious, the partnership can persevere the difficult times through establishing a strong core to build upon. As discussed in The Partnership: Creating a Solid Foundation for Successful Healthcare Integration: “A partnership that has the solid and flexible foundation that is necessary for a lasting partnership” will weather the inevitable storms ahead.
If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail.