AMA Adds New Guides to Behavioral Health Integration Compendium

In an effort to expand and improve the Behavioral Health Integration Compendium (BHI), the AMA has released four new practice guides. These updated resources assist health systems and physicians improve their services and better meet the physical and mental needs of their patients.

Currently, the need for improvement in access and implementation of mental health care is crucial. In his interview with Modern Healthcare, Stuart Archer, president and CEO of Oceans Healthcare, a behavioral healthcare provider, points out the need for greater attention on mental health.

“We are seeing a mental health epidemic begin to follow what we saw as a physical pandemic,” Archer says. He also points to the Covid-related isolation that’s led to feelings of disconnection and a loss of societal norms that may lead to or worsen the mental health crisis.

The Compendium of Behavioral Health Resources Grows

The new AMA guides are comprehensive how-to resources intended to help make mental health care more accessible to patients by removing the barriers to care physicians sometimes face. The additions to the BHI include guides on workflow, psychopharmacology, substance use disorders, and suicide prevention.

Workflow Guide

The new workflow guide helps organizations by identifying key criteria and questions to suit the needs of doctors and their patients. The new guide covers topics such as:

  • Staffing – Financial considerations, patient demographics, data/record management, and other administrative guidelines
  • Crisis Protocols – Who should be responsible for developing and maintaining a referral list when higher-level care is needed?
  • Billing and coding – Ensuring your electronic medical record system maintains the appropriate codes
  • Staff and patient feedback – How is this data collected and used to improve the (BHI) workflow?

The new guide provides specific details and sample checklists to help primary care providers create the most effective workflow needed for their practice.

Psychopharmacology Guide

This new practice guide provides evidence-based information on how and when to treat patients with psychotropic medications. The updated guide aims to assist efforts to remove the negative stereotypes around behavioral health conditions by offering practical strategies. It offers strategies to reduce stigma, including:

  • Uncovering the unconscious bias within the culture, community, and the care team
  • Letting patients be heard and respected, connecting with patients in the team effort of managing behavioral health challenges
  • Hope for recovery and ways to empower the medical team to find solutions that lead to recovery

Physicians and their teams can better learn how to implement best practices in their treatment procedures for patients who require psychotropic medications using the practice guide. The guide stresses the importance of well-trained teams, implementing treatment plans, and the value of appropriate psychopharmacology.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment Guide

This guide provides actionable, evidence-based steps to assist primary care providers in identifying and addressing substance use disorders. With proper screening tools and a non-judgmental approach, care providers can establish a more trusting environment that will more likely lead to a patient’s recovery.

Topics features in the substance use disorder treatment guide include:

  • Training teams to recognize substance use disorder as a disease that requires compassionate treatment
  • Identify and evaluate those who need treatment, including leading open conversations about substance use
  • Developing, implementing, and following up with treatment plans
  • Understanding the financial constraints of patients (topics such as how to handle billing and using appropriate CPT codes to help make treatment more sustainable)
  • Accessibility to resources such as training programs, checklists, and screening tools

The guide will improve the way a primary physician and care team effectively manages substance use disorder by ensuring they have the most recent information on hand.

Suicide Prevention Guide

The CDC reports that in the U.S., someone dies from suicide every 11 minutes. With the help of the AMA’s new practice guide, primary physicians and their care team may help lower that number. The suicide-prevention guide is part of an overall plan to overcome treatment accessibility for patients needing mental, physical, and behavioral care.

The guide includes instructions and advice on how to:

  • Spot the signs of at-risk patients
  • Integrate suicide prevention strategies
  • Understand the financial limitation of patients
  • Improve access to resources (such as training programs, checklists, screening and assessment tools, and customizable letters)

Better preparation and training can play a significant role in preventing suicide as well as treatment and recovery.

The BHI Collaborative also offers a free webinar series to increase the quality of patient care. Series topics include billing and coding, privacy, health equity, telehealth, and the value of building collaborative cultures.