Advancing Primary Care



Funding Area

Advancing Primary Care


August 1, 2017


This issue brief, co-funded by United Hospital Fund (UHF) and the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), explores the real-world application of an innovative framework that allows for the phased adoption of key elements of behavioral health integration.

Integrating screening, diagnosis, and treatment of common behavioral health conditions—such as depression, anxiety, and substance use—into primary care is widely acknowledged as a pressing goal, but has remained a significant challenge, especially for smaller, resource-constrained practices that provide much of New York City’s and State’s primary care.

In 2016, a team led by Dr. Henry Chung of Montefiore Health System and Dr. Harold Pincus of New York-Presbyterian Hospital developed published the report, Advancing Integration of Behavioral Health into Primary Care: A Continuum-Based Framework. To build on this work, funding from UHF (for six New York City practices) and NYSHealth (for five practices throughout the State) supported a launch of a project involving 11 small practices in New York City and State. This diverse group of highly motivated practices—all with five or fewer primary care providers—is working to move from early to advanced stages of integrated practice.

This issue brief, the first in a series of three, introduces the participating practices and follows their progress toward behavioral health integration.

Participants have identified six- and twelve-month goals for their progress, prioritizing four of the eight domains delineated by the framework:

  • routine identification of patients and referral to care;
  • use of a multi-disciplinary (both professionals and patients) approach to care;
  • continuous care management; and
  • information tracking and exchange among providers.

Participants have also called for a number of policy changes that will allow them to sustain whatever progress they make, including improved reimbursements for behavioral health services and the prioritization of relevant quality metrics over the many others that they are required to report.

Read the issue brief here.