Findings of excess cardio metabolic morbidity and mortality in persons with severe mental illness (SMI) have led to a growing interest by Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) in improving the medical care of the populations they treat. However, these organizations face a number of financial and organizational barriers to implementing and sustaining such programs. In previous and ongoing work, the study team has documented the promise of team-based models in improving health and health care in this population. This study will test a novel approach for improving mental health consumers based on a partnership model between a CMHC and a Community Health Center (CHC). This partnership will capitalize on collocation of services, the primary care expertise of the CHC, and favorable reimbursement conditions, to develop a program that is both clinically robust and financially and organizationally sustainable A total of 300 CMHC clients with a severe mental illness and one or more active cardio metabolic problem (diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia) will be randomized to either onsite Integrated Community Care (ICC) (n=150) or to a referral to the partner community health center (CHC) (n=150) for their medical problems. For those in the ICC, the CHC will establish a satellite clinic at the CMHC staffed by a physician assistant and care manager. The ICC will provide care for both the index cardio metabolic conditions and common acute and chronic comorbidities. The study will use standardized, validated instruments to assess the impact of integrated community care on quality and outcomes of cardio metabolic and general medical care. A budget impact analysis and qualitative case study analysis will be used to assess the program's financial and organizational sustainability. The program will be disseminated in partnership with the National Council on Community Behavioral healthcare, the oldest and largest trade organization of community mental health organizations. When this study is completed, it will provide a model for CMHCs to provide a medical home for the populations they serve.
There is an urgent need to develop practical, sustainable approaches to improving medical care for persons treated in community mental health settings. This study will test a novel approach for improving mental health consumers based on a partnership model between a Community Mental Health Center and a Community Health Center. When this study is completed, it will provide a model for a medical home for persons with severe mental illness that is clinically robust, and organizationally and financially sustainable.
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