Integration of health services treats the whole person
What exactly does fully integrated health care or “whole health” care really mean, and how is it changing the way we think about taking care of those we serve?
Health care has long been thought of in terms of silos: you go to one place for your primary care, another place for behavioral health, yet another for addiction recovery or other specialized need, and someplace else to pick up your prescription medicine.
In integrated care, many services are delivered under one roof, so patients can have co-located care for most of their whole health needs. This model not only reduces barriers to accessing care, but can also help reduce costs.
Medical records are shared, so a primary care provider is intimately familiar with the other treatments that individual receives, including psychiatric medication.
For one example of integrated care at work, a woman was working with her Life Skills Instructor at one of the Aspire Indiana clinic locations, and reported that she had not been feeling well lately, hampering her in achieving her goals. The LSI was able to literally walk her a few dozen paces to see a medical expert at the in-house Aspire Indiana Health wing.
Based on their assessment, the woman was immediately taken to an emergency room, where she was soon admitted to the hospital in critical condition. She underwent emergency stomach surgery that potentially saved her life.
Stories like this, big and small, are reflected many times in Aspire’s data.
For example, by training LSIs and other workers on the behavioral health side in integration outreach, Aspire was able to achieve significant improvements in health indicators like blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and blood sugar levels (HbA1c) indicative of diabetes.
As of the end of 2018, 65 percent of high-risk Aspire patients with high blood sugar showed improvement in their HbA1c level or were no longer considered at-risk. More than 40 percent showed in improvement in BMI, and nearly 20 percent showed better blood pressure readings.
(These statistics are for Aspire’s highest risk adult SMI clients collected for PBHCI efforts)
The success of integrated health care can be quantified in metrics like this. But its true measure comes in real-life instances where someone’s life was dramatically impacted by having seamless access to other forms of care.
In another instance, a male client came to Aspire for the first time. During his behavioral health intake interview, he reported having blurry vision and a dry mouth. When the medical personnel examined him, they found he had an extremely elevated blood pressure and glucose level.
This resulted in another trip to the ER and the patient receiving the immediate medical health care he needed. In a non-integrated setting, it’s possible his life would have been severely impacted -- or even much shorter -- without that continuum of care.
Care providers from the different disciplines participate in integrated case staffings where they join with other experts who work with social determinants of health like housing and employment. This integrated team sits down together to look at how the physical, emotional and social needs of a particular person intersect and how to meet them.
This is the core concept of “whole person” care.
The long term effect of this sharing of time and space is we are coaching a workforce that becomes naturally more knowledgeable about the other disciplines at the table and develops collaborative competencies that practitioners in traditional settings don’t.
And we’re helping at-risk populations live longer, healthier lives. This fits in directly with one of Aspire’s “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals” of 10 in 10: Extend the life of people we serve by 10 years within 10 years.
New youth and family services director helping “change the DNA” of Aspire
Aspire Indiana/Aspire Indiana Health is in the midst of an evolution. A common refrain is that we are “changing the DNA” of the organization.
For 40 years Aspire has been known for its behavioral health services for adults. But we are now a fully integrated “whole health” provider that serves the entire family with behavioral health and primary medical care as well as addressing social determinants of health through myriad support services and community programs.
One reflection of this change is the creation of a new position: Director of Youth & Family Home & Community Based Services. Vanessa Pataky will develop home and community-based services for youth and family, collaborate with other youth/family agencies and serve as primary liaison with the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS).
Pataky is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Indiana University. Before joining Aspire a year ago as a comprehensive outpatient clinical manager, she previously served in social work and leadership positions with area hospital and behavioral health providers. She is also passing on her knowledge and experience as an adjunct professor at Butler University and IUPUI.
Beyond its six clinics in Marion, Boone, Madison and Hamilton counties, Aspire is innovating ways to deliver its services to Hoosiers in the community, in the schools and wherever people need them.
The new emphasis is already gaining notice. At a recent regional DCS meeting, representatives for Regional Child Welfare Service, as well as the new Madison County DCS director, praised the work Aspire is doing in conjunction with their agencies. Patasky talked about working through barriers during intake assessments and recommending other needed services. This work also ties in with Indiana’s Substance Treatment and Recovery Team (START) priorities, DCS officials said.
Aspire recognized as a “Patriotic Employer”
Aspire was recognized as a “Patriotic Employer” by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. This program recognizes employers for contributing to the national security effort through its support of employees participating in the National Guard and Reserve Force. Karl Lundberg, a retired Marine Corps Colonel, presented the award to Aspire CEO Barbara Scott, Aspire Indiana Health
Executive Director Jerry Landers and
Michael Gray, Director of Training & Professional Development.
The nonprofit health system was nominated by an employee who is preparing to deploy overseas for honoring the values, leadership and skills of service members and supporting them during deployment.
Welcome New Employees
Forensic Peer Specialist
CCLSI Youth & Family HCBS
Deaf Cluster Apts
Mary Beth Tripp
Quality & Population Health Coordinator
Crisis Care Coordinator
Hartung Group Home
Non-Medical Case Manager
Lise (Elizabeth) Ebert
Payee Account Technician
We’re taking the month of April to thank all of our talented and
hard-working staff members in Elwood. Thank you!
Help us recognize this month’s Way To Go! staff:
Dr. Candice Hunter
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