Patty Gibson, MD, ABHIN Chief Medical Officer and president-elect of Arkansas Psychiatric Society, spoke with Arkansas Money and Politics this February about the importance of integrated primary care.

“The Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) that provides team treatment for mental health patients has been shown to increase access to mental health care, save money and improve outcomes. That is why sponsors are promoting Senate Bill 178, which would require all payers, including Medicaid, to reimburse for CoCM… ‘CoCM increases access to mental health treatment,’ Gibson said. ‘We know there are not enough psychiatrists and counselors in Arkansas so primary care is the de facto mental health system, and they prescribe 75 percent of psychotropic medications. Even before the pandemic when physicians referred patients to mental health providers, only 20 percent of patients actually made it to the first appointment. Of those 20 percent, 10 percent didn’t go back for a second visit.’ Gibson said that, unfortunately, these primary care clinicians don’t get enough training to handle patients with complex mental health issues. Having integrated behavioral health and having CoCM available helps the PCPs provide better care to their patients. ”

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