Collaborative Care Model
Providing access to mental health care through primary care is the single most important step health systems can take to address the worsening mental health crisis Texas and the nation are facing. The Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) is an evidenced-based practice to bring physical and mental health care and treatment together within the same primary care provider’s (PCP) office.
What is Collaborative Care?
Under CoCM, a PCP leads a team of professionals, including a consulting psychiatrist and a case manager, all working together to coordinate care and ensure access to the best treatment available for a patient’s needs. CoCM is particularly adept at detecting mental health issues like depression because it incorporates another proven approach: measurement-based care (MBC). Every routine check-up can include screening for emotional ailments like depression, anxiety, and substance use, just like screening for common physical markers like blood sugar and cholesterol level. When a need is detected, the PCP can immediately consult with the mental health specialist and quickly determine a treatment plan the patient can begin that day.
Benefits of Collaborative Care
Due to the power of early identification and intervention, CoCM is a cost saver. A 2013 study found savings in Medicare and Medicaid settings of up to 6 to 1 in total medical costs. If only 20% of people with depression had access to CoCM, the U.S. Medicaid system alone could save an estimated $15 billion a year.
The Meadows Institute has studied the impact that universal access to CoCM would have on suicide rates, and the data was clear and encouraging: if every American with depression had access to CoCM, between 9,000 and 14,500 lives could be saved every year.