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NCQA Adds New Distinction for Behavioral Health Integration

New module distinguishes practices that integrate behavioral health into primary care

WASHINGTON, DC—The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is proud to announce a new behavioral health distinction for recognized Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) practices. Practices that earn NCQA’s Behavioral Health Integration Distinction in Behavioral Health Integration have the right resources, protocols, tools and measures in place to care for the needs of patients with behavioral health conditions.

Behavioral health conditions can often be identified in a primary care setting where practitioners address the needs of the whole patient. Behavioral health conditions include mental illness and substance use and are often diagnosed and/or treated outside the primary care practice. This can lead to inadequate or delayed treatment, poor outcomes and higher total spending.

“Many times behavioral health conditions are first identified by a primary care provider,” said Margaret E. O’Kane, NCQA President. “So adding behavioral health care services in a primary care setting is a real opportunity for patients. It knocks down barriers to behavioral care and improves overall health.”

This distinction helps practices provide comprehensive whole person care that acknowledges the behavioral health needs of the individual beyond the core requirements of NCQA PCMH Recognition. The Distinction in Behavioral Health Integration calls for a primary care setting to have a care team (care managers, psychiatrists, or other practitioners) in place to manage the broad needs of patients with conditions related to behavioral health, focusing on the use of evidence-based protocols and ongoing quality measurement and improvement. Integrating behavioral health into primary care can improve access, clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

To learn more about the Distinction in Behavioral Health Integration,download the NCQA PCMH Recognition Standards and Guidelines from the NCQA store. Program requirements are in Appendix 4. 

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