Primary Care Provider (PCP)

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Most primary care providers (PCPs) lack the time required to fully explore a patient’s mental health problem. In Collaborative Care, the PCP has two additional resources to aid in mental health treatment: a Behavioral Health Care Manager (BHCM), and a Psychiatric Consultant.

The PCP works in close consultation and collaboration with the patient’s BHCM (who is available in-house or by phone/email). The PCP also continues to oversee all aspects of the patient’s care (including medication). The Psychiatric Consultant typically consults with the BHCM by phone and is normally not co-located. Treatment recommendations from the Psychiatric Consultant are relayed to the PCP via the BHCM or by the Electronic Health Record; however, there may be instances where the PCP and Psychiatric Consultant communicate directly.

Role Description

The PCP Role Handout presents reasons why the Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) benefits a PCP and gives a visual representation of the model to help solidify team structure and flow. An additional resource that may be helpful includes a paper stemming from the Washington State Mental Health Integration Program, which talks about physician satisfaction with a Collaborative Care program.

Components of integrated care undertaken by the care team that may be new to PCPs include:

  • Proactive patient engagement
  • Frequent measurement of symptoms with evidence-based tools (e.g., PHQ-9, GAD-7)
  • Aggressive and proactive change of treatment plan when necessary
  • Use of brief, evidence-based practice techniques that work best in a primary care environment