Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 04, 2022

What Is Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model: A Complete Overview

For years, mental healthcare and primary care were independent of each other. If you visited a primary healthcare provider with mental illness symptoms, they'd refer you to a mental healthcare professional. Besides being time-consuming, this approach was also not cost-effective in the long term. Consequently, a Collaborative Care Model was designed to allow the integration of mental healthcare and primary care. 

This model allows patients with comorbid mental illnesses to receive treatment in the same setting. This also helps save on costs and time while enhancing healthcare outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction. Additionally, due to societal stigma, most mental illness patients have been afraid to seek help. Nonetheless, the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model is a convenient way for patients to seek treatment for mental disorders discreetly. 

The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model allows psychiatrists to reach more mental illness patients than would have been possible in the past and improve patient outcomes by enabling them to obtain care before symptoms persist. This article provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model, starting with a description of the model. It goes on to mention the characteristics of the Collaborative Care Model, its benefits, and reasons why you should enrol.  

Defining The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model

The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) is a tool that involves an integrated healthcare professional team availing mental health services to patients in a primary care setting. However, it's not solely restricted to primary care. It's also employed in other fields, including cardiology, obstetrics, and oncology.  

The reasoning behind formulating the Collaborative Care Model is that mental illnesses sometimes manifest as physical illnesses. This implies that, in some instances, when a patient tests negative for a physical illness, they might have an underlying mental condition. The reverse is also true in that physical illness can sometimes trigger mental illness symptoms.

The professional team involved in implementing the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model consists of:

  • The primary care provider (or relevant healthcare provider)
  • Behavioural healthcare manager
  • Psychiatric consultant. 

All these professionals must be qualified to perform their respective functions. The primary care provider must have undergone rigorous training in an accredited medical institution. Similarly, a behavioural healthcare manager must be trained in behavioural health. Lastly, a psychiatric consultant must possess psychiatric experience, and they also need to be licensed to prescribe medicines. 

However, the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model team would not be complete without the patient because they’re the model's target. Their active participation is essential in helping primary care providers, behavioural healthcare managers, and psychiatric consultants to deliver quality care. The patient participating in the model is registered and subjected to regular mental health evaluations. Subsequently, behavioural healthcare managers and psychiatric consultants analyse the collected information weekly to measure the patient’s progress. 

This information is then used to formulate evidence-based interventions and create effective treatment plans for the patient, thus improving healthcare outcomes.  

Characteristics Of Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model

The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model has five defining characteristics: population-based care, patient-centredness, accountability, evidence-based care, and measurement-based treatment. Each of these characteristics is briefly explained below. 

1. Population-Based

The psychiatry Collaborative Care Model is population-based. The Collaborative Care Model team categorizes the patients entered in a registry into groups to ensure none of them is left unattended. This makes monitoring their progress and modifying their treatment plans easier if necessary. Additionally, the psychiatry Collaborative Care Model allows the professionals to track patients who aren't showing any progress. This enables psychiatrists to deal with these cases simultaneously to enhance healthcare outcomes.

2. Patient-Centred

The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model is also patient-centred, exemplified by the collaborative approach through which care is provided. Each care team member evaluates the patient and designs an intervention and care plan based on the patient's needs. Effective collaboration results include improved patient satisfaction, enhanced patient care outcomes, and improved healthcare experience.  

3. Accountability-Centred Care 

The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model keeps healthcare professionals accountable. This means that patients pay for quality patient care and healthcare outcomes as opposed to the volume and amount of care offered.  

4. Evidence-Based 

The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model uses an evidence-based approach when designing treatment interventions and care plans. This means that reliable research materials are used to support the individually-tailored intervention and care plans designed for each patient. 

5. Measurement-Based Treatment

The effectiveness of the psychiatric Collaborative Care Model is determined by how well individually-tailored treatment and care plans meet the desired goals. This means that the progress of patients is regularly monitored to measure effectiveness. If the patient isn't making significant progress, their treatment plan is evaluated and modified until effectiveness is attained.  

Benefits Of The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model

Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model has numerous benefits for patients, healthcare providers, and the healthcare sector in general. These benefits are tied to costs, time, access to care, patient care outcomes, and stigma, as will be discussed below. 

  • It's Cost-Effective

As mentioned above, the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model integrates primary care and psychiatry. This means that the patient can access mental health services without seeking the services of a psychiatrist separately, which is cost-effective. 

Additionally, because the model is accountability-centred, the patient's spending isn't determined by the magnitude of care provided. On the contrary, healthcare providers are reimbursed for delivering quality care and improved clinical outcomes. This also exemplifies cost-effectiveness. 

  • It Saves Time

Sometimes a patient might visit their primary healthcare provider with physical symptoms that an underlying mental illness may cause. In such circumstances, the availability of the collaborative model makes diagnosis easier. The primary healthcare provider can immediately consult a psychiatrist if the patient tests negative for physical illnesses. This saves both costs and time. 

Similarly, diagnosing mental disorders in the past was done in specialized settings outside of the primary care setting. Thus, if a primary care provider suspected that a patient had mental illness symptoms, they'd refer them to a psychiatrist. However, the Collaborative Care Model has changed the game by enabling the provision of mental health treatment in primary care settings. Consequently, this has saved the patients time they’d otherwise spend searching for mental health professionals in specialized settings.  

  • It Improves Patient Outcomes

The Psychiatrist Collaborative Care Model improves patient outcomes in numerous ways. For starters, the care team involved in implementing this model monitors the patient’s progress periodically. This helps them keep track of the effectiveness—or otherwise—of the individual treatment plan. It also enables them to make modifications where necessary to make the care plans more effective, thus improving patient outcomes. 

Secondly, the Collaborative Care Model helps health care providers tend to their patient's physical and mental well-being. For example, for a patient with comorbid physical illnesses, the primary care provider assesses their mental and physical well-being. This ensures that no underlying physical or mental illnesses are left untreated, therefore improving the outcome. 

Additionally, the collaborative model reduces healthcare costs, increasing healthcare access. Initially, a patient may have been unable to seek treatment for mental health conditions in a primary care setting. However, today that patient can visit their primary care provider and receive treatment at an affordable rate. This, too, results in improved patient outcomes. 

  • It Reduces Stigma 

Over the years, societal stigma has been one of the major hindrances to mental health care. However, with the formulation of the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model, patients battling mental illness can access mental health services discreetly. The model also fights stigma by promoting the idea that mental well-being is as critical as physical well-being. This enables patients to seek treatment for mental conditions as boldly as they do for physical illnesses.  

  • It Enhances Access To Psychiatric Care  

In the past, accessing psychiatric care was somewhat difficult due to stigma, high costs, and the inability to find psychiatrists easily. Nonetheless, the formulation and implementation of the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model have made it easier for various reasons. Firstly, the patient is guaranteed they’ll find a mental health professional in a primary care setting. Thus, they don't need to visit specialized settings to access mental health services. 

Secondly, the Collaborative Care Model has reduced stigma by prioritizing mental health and availing mental health services in primary care settings. This has made patients with mental disorders less afraid to seek treatment, further enhancing access to psychiatric care.  

Why Patients Should Enrol In Psychiatric Collaborative Care  

Patients must note that their mental well-being is as important as their physical health. For example, one may notice a headache whenever they’re stressed. Similarly, a headache may be accompanied by mental symptoms like anxiety. This shows that physical and mental well-being needs to be at par for a person to have overall good health. 

Besides providing access to treatment, the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model helps patients learn healthy coping mechanisms. For instance, if their anxiety is work-related, they’ll learn healthy strategies for managing stress from work. 

Remember that a patient’s care team includes a primary care provider, a behavioural manager, and a psychiatric consultant. Additionally, the collaborative model is patient-centred, which means the treatment plan is centred on individual needs. More importantly, the care team will monitor the patient periodically to evaluate their progress and ensure a good recovery. 

In Summary

The Psychiatry Collaborative Care Model is a revolutionary approach that integrates primary care and mental health care services. It aims to help bridge the gap between physical and mental health, providing easy access to both as the patients need them. Outlined above are the defining characteristics and benefits of this model, helping change the medical landscape for patients who need it the most.

Author Bio

Tina Lemarc is a clinical assistant and medical researcher. She is also a writer and contributor to scientific blogs and journals. When she's not busy writing about the latest in health and medicine, she enjoys cooking and baking in her family home.

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