Behavioral Health Care Manager
The Behavioral Health Care Manager (BHCM) coordinates the group and ensures effective communication among team members. BHCMs are typically nurses, psychologists, social workers or licensed counselors; however, the ability to perform, assign, and plan out the tasks that need to be completed is much more important than credentials one holds.
A BHCM is a behavioral health professional, typically a counselor, clinical social worker, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse, who performs all the care management tasks including psychotherapy when that is part of the treatment plan. A BHCM is not the same as a case manager or a behavioral health consultant (Which Flavor of Integrated Care? describes the difference between collaborative care and the behavioral health consultant model).
Effective BHCMs support the PCP in their role by
- participating in diagnosis and treatment planning
- coordinating treatment
- providing proactive follow-up of treatment response
- alerting the PCP when the patient is not improving
- supporting medication management
- facilitating communication with the psychiatric consultant regarding treatment changes
- offer brief counseling (using evidence-based techniques such as motivational interviewing, behavioral activation, and problem-solving treatment)
Some BHCM duties and responsibilities can be assigned to other members of the care team. However, BHCMs on a collaborative care team need to build a unique set of clinical skills specific to practicing in primary care and other healthcare settings.
We recommend, as much as feasible, hiring BHCMs as full-time or nearly full-time staff. BHCMs who are assigned numerous other duties in a fast-paced clinic setting often fall behind on effectively managing their CoCM caseload. It may mean that the BHCM position must cover two or more smaller clinics to justify the FTE.
A full-time behavioral health care manager should typically oversee a max of 120 patients, depending on how the program is structured. Review the BHCM caseload guidelines to better determine the appropriate caseload size per BHCM for your organization.
- Online Collaborative Care Training for BHCMs
Self-directed, 9-hour online training program that includes didactic presentations, quizzes, sample patient cases, and interactive activities. Created by AIMS Center experts and highly recommended for new BHCMs.
- Applying the Integrated Care Approach: Skills for BHCMs
Free introductory module for BHCMs designed by the AIMS Center and the American Psychiatric Association.