DEFINING THE PHRASE: Integrated Health Services

Integrated Health Services

You have probably heard the phrase integrated health services. It is a popular buzzword, but not a new concept. In fact, the idea of integrated healthcare services is a reinterpretation of the idea of primary health care which was developed in the 1980s, as a reaction to the increased specialization of medicine that many physicians believed was threatening to dilute the quality of overall medical care.

Though it is currently receiving increasing focus in the healthcare industry, the phrase itself still means different things to different people. Alternate definitions focus on things like: continuity of care for the consumer over time, integration of policy-making and management, packaged preventive and curative care for target groups within the greater population, facilities providing various health and social services in a single location (a one-stop-shop model), or coordination of insurance for behavioral and health services.

In fact, a 2008 brief by the WHO identified, at least, six distinct definitions for the phrase, whilst proposing a single working definition. Even after this working definition was proposed, some lack of conceptual clarity still exists. As the definition becomes clearer, one generally agreed upon component is that integrated health services should be understood as a continuum.   Another key conceptual component is, as the National Council for Behavioral Health puts it,  “…healthcare is “putting the head back on the body” and looking at ways to care for the whole person.” This type of big picture or total view of the patient represents the primary and defining hallmark of integrated healthcare.

What does BHPI mean when we refer to Integrated Health Services?
The simplest definition states that integrated health care describes situations in which behavioral and medical health providers collaborate in an effort to facilitate a relationship between behavioral health care and primary care, ultimately and ideally, leading to improved outcomes for consumers. Beneficial anticipated byproducts of this reimagined process are a reduction in overall healthcare costs, as well as less of a drain on human resources as a direct result of better coordination and management of patients’ needs and more comprehensive care. In addition, integrated healthcare should span the full lifecycle of a consumer, with comprehensive preventive and curative services provided from cradle to grave.

Integrated healthcare should be:

  • Coordinated
  • Value-based
  • Patient-focused
  • Quality

The Primary Goal of Integrated Health Care
The fundamental goal of integrated healthcare is to improve the level of care that consumers receive. The theory behind this is this is that when medical physicians and behavioral health care physicians coordinate efforts, the patient is served in a more effective manner. This comprehensive process enhances quality and enables physicians to provide more targeted and appropriate services to patients. Integrated healthcare models recognize that overall healthcare must be inclusive of behavioral health for maximum benefit to the consumer.

About Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.: Established in 2002 and headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, BHPI is a Managed Behavioral Health Organization offering behavioral health services through a fully integrated network of world-class healthcare providers.  Our emphasis is on adding value for our customers by offering expert behavioral care management, medical coordination, and behavioral disease and chronic behavioral condition management.  BHPI offers collaborative solutions by building strong partnerships with HMOs, Health Systems, Insurance Companies, and Employer groups.  For more information visit:

References Is Integrated Behavioral Health Care

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