Integrating behavioral health into primary care


This is the sixth in a series of articles from the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This series introduces sets of tools and resources designed to help your practice.

Primary care practice is under increasing pressure to evolve. As highlighted in this series, topics such as shared decision making, team-based care, integration of behavioral health into primary care practice, and practice facilitation all offer the potential to enhance your primary care practice. On the other hand, quality of care must remain a top priority during this transformation. While much of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) work in quality of care focuses on the inpatient setting, AHRQ offers many tools and resources to evaluate quality of care and to implement quality improvement into your primary care practice.

Dr. Theodore Ganiats is the director for the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research at AHRQ

Dr. Theodore Ganiats

One resource is the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse (NQMC). The NQMC is a database and website for information on specific evidence-based health care quality measures and measure sets, sponsored by AHRQ to promote widespread access to quality measures by the health care community and other interested individuals. For each measure that meets NQMC criteria for inclusion, the site provides structured, standardized summaries that contain information about measures and their development. A dedicated team prepares these summaries using the NQMC Template of Measure Attributes and associated Domain Framework, Glossary Classification Scheme, Naming Convention, and Measure Hierarchy.

The NQMC mission is to provide an accessible mechanism for obtaining detailed information on quality measures and to further the dissemination, implementation, and use of these measures to inform health care decisions. NQMC is designed for practitioners, health care providers, health plans, integrated delivery systems, purchasers, and others interested in health care quality measurement. Funding for the NQMC is in question, and the future of this resource is not certain.

Confidential feedback reporting is widely considered to be a precursor to and a foundation for performance improvement. However, to enable change, the clinician responsible for and capable of change must receive, understand, and act on the information. The following publications from the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research offer some guidance from the on ways to best do so:

  • Confidential Physician Feedback Reports: Designing for Optimal Impact on Performance is a guide that informs developers of feedback reports about evidence-based strategies to consider when they develop or refine a feedback reporting system.
  • Will It Work Here? A Decisionmaker’s Guide to Adopting Innovations can help you determine if an innovation would be a good fit – or an appropriate stretch – for your practice or health care organization by asking a series of questions. It links users to actionable Web-based tools and presents case studies that illustrate how other organizations have addressed these questions.
  • Improving Your Office Testing Process: A Toolkit for Rapid-Cycle Patient Safety and Quality Improvement provides information and resources to help physicians’ offices, clinics, and other ambulatory care facilities assess and improve the testing process in their offices.

These and other tools can be found at the AHRQ website.

Dr. Ganiats is the director for the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research at AHRQ.

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