A patient talking to their dedicated care team.

6 Reasons Integrated Care Is Important For Better Health Outcomes

Healthcare is changing. There have been major advancements in our understanding of diseases and how to treat them, and each year, more and more medical devices hit the market as technology evolves to address illness.

But, despite these innovations, people in the United States report receiving low-quality care for a higher price than before. In fact, as many as 60% of Americans reported dissatisfaction with the current healthcare system.

This is why more and more people are turning to integrated healthcare services. An integrated healthcare model addresses the concerns of care costs and increases the quality of care you and your loved ones receive. If you’re searching for high-quality health care, then you should start by looking into integrated care.

What Is Integrated Care?

Integrated health care is defined by the WHO as a healthcare system that delivers comprehensive long-term care designed to meet the multidimensional needs of patients. Integrated care models are made up of coordinated care from a team of healthcare professionals – including behavioral healthcare providers and social service providers. This means that rather than keeping these services separate, doctors work together to address you and your loved ones healthcare needs, resulting in a higher quality of life over all.

For example, if you see your primary care physician for chronic migraines and fatigue, they’ll address the issue holistically – taking a whole-person approach by developing patient care coordination with other members of your care team. Rather than treating symptoms, they’ll look at long-term care solutions that can positively impact your health conditions, including alternative medicines like acupuncture and/or mental health services.

Why is Integrated Healthcare Important?

Integrated care management can help provide easier referrals, as well as cut back on the dependance of addictive substance-use (like opioids) by addressing chronic conditions and disabilities in a more natural and comprehensive way. There are numerous incentives for switching to an integrated care model that address many of the issues associated with modern healthcare services.

1. Integrated Care Addresses Mental Health and Physical Health

For a long time, behavioral health was not considered a key component in our physical well-being. Even worse, mental health issues were heavily stigmatized. Many primary care providers fail to account for the impact our behavioral health has on physical health conditions. When mental health services and physical health services are housed in separate care settings, providers often fail to address behavioral health when developing care plans for health conditions.

This is a mistake that can drastically harm the quality of patient care. Evidence-based studies show that your behavioral health directly impacts your physical health. Adolescents with mental health issues were found to be at higher risk for severe health problems including infectious diseases, respiratory problems, and weight problems.

Another example is how those who suffer from depression are more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. Mood disorders often lead to sleep problems like insomnia or sleep apnea, as well. If behavioral health issues are not addressed, primary care physicians can not address the root cause of physical health conditions, which eventually leads to an on-going problem for patients.

Integrated care initiatives dissolve the boundaries between mental health services and physical health services. Having a multidisciplinary healthcare team allows for mental healthcare providers and primary care providers to collaborate on long-term care for patients that addresses all aspects of their health. Even if you don’t struggle with chronic mental health conditions, access to mental health services is always beneficial, and can help you develop a healthier mindset that can lead to greater physical wellbeing.

Not only do integrated healthcare models incorporate mental health providers, but they also take into account the impact that our social needs have on our overall health. To address this, integrated care plans can also incorporate social services into care plans. Access to this leads to greater patient outcomes and improves healthcare conditions for all, including the most vulnerable members of our society.

Greater Success Fighting Substance Abuse Disorder

Integrated care delivery has increased the success rates of those seeking help for substance abuse disorders, because these healthcare systems incorporate mental health services and help address social conditions for the patient – both of which are essential to combating addictive substance-use. Receiving comprehensive social services and mental health treatment for substance use has been shown to increase the success of recovery. An integrated care plan helps streamline access to these fundamental services.

2. Integrated Health Gives Access to More Services

Integrated care models make receiving a wider range of services easier for you and your loved ones. Rather than having your doctors siloed in different care settings (requiring more time and energy to book appointments across a variety of health care professionals), you can more easily locate, schedule, and manage your medical care in one location and management system.

Not only that but this model simplifies the referral process and finding different caregivers who accept your insurance. Better coordinated care cuts back on paperwork associated with moving from office to office in search of different medical services, which not only saves you time but also money.

Additionally, there are incentives rolling out in many states that encourage integrated care settings to accept Medicare and Medicaid, making it affordable and more accessible for patients who really need it. Healthcare inequality often keeps vulnerable patients from receiving comprehensive and quality care. Behavioral health services are especially hard to access for those who have a lower income – even though it often benefits them the most.

An evidence-based study found that integrated care models lowered rates of depression, especially among those who were low-income or uninsured. Integrated care helps make crucial services more accessible in part because it helps reduce the price of essential services that can be costly. When these services become less expensive and more accessible to all, everyone benefits.

3. This Care Model Lowers Health Care Costs

Integrated healthcare cuts costs on office and prescription fees, which helps you save money on your  medical needs. Overall, treatment in all categories has been found to be 12% to 24% lower for patients receiving integrated care and prescription drug costs are 4.1% lower.

Integrated health care also lowers the cost of medical care by providing a higher quality of care – this means there are less trips to the ER, shorter medical stays, and a lower need for medical treatment overall. All together, this helps reduce your annual medical bills by up to $4,845.

4. Integrated Care Results in Better Coordinated Care

Communication is key in receiving quality health care. HIPAA compliance can often complicate the process of sharing patient information when it’s being shared across different companies and healthcare providers.This isn’t an issue with integrated care systems where the information doesn’t have to leave the solidified medical care system in order for patients to see different healthcare providers.

This is why integrated healthcare is better at providing quality treatment to patients than separated medical providers can. Sharing patient data is streamlined across your care team so there are no blindspots from missing information and less waiting for providers to receive your paperwork.

Not only that but there’s more face-to-face discussions and collaboration within your care team. There’s no need to rely on fax machines or voicemails that might get lost in the shuffle. Your care team can easily check in on the progress of your treatment plan and discuss the results.

5. Provides Creative Solutions for Difficult and Chronic Conditions

Multidisciplinary collaboration can help reduce your susceptibility to illness and relieve the suffering of chronic conditions. When you have a team of medical care providers working on your treatment, it results in more creative solutions than depending on an independent primary care provider.

Often when you are receiving care from a primary care provider alone, difficult, recurring, or chronic conditions aren’t treated as efficiently as they could be. Instead of treating the root cause of the illness, the provider treats only the symptoms.For example, a primary care physician may simply give you mild painkillers if you book an appointment for migraines. This might lessen the pain in the moment, but it will do nothing in the long term for the cause of the condition.

A multidisciplinary care team will look at potential solutions for migraines based on their expertise and willingness to consider holistic approaches. A mental health provider may monitor your stress and anxiety in relation to your migraines. Additionally, if your care team includes access to an acupuncturist or a chiropractor, booking an appointment with either might steadily help improve your chronic migraines.

Even chronic behavioral health issues can benefit from creative, multidisciplinary medical approaches. For instance, acupuncture can help with panic disorders, and a trip to the chiropractor can help relieve symptoms of depression. Not only that, but when your primary care provider is involved in discussions about your mental health, then they’ll be more active in helping you adopt lifestyle changes to help improve it.

6. Generates Higher Provider and Patient Satisfaction

An integrated care model gives the best results to all involved. Both patients and healthcare providers report a higher level of satisfaction with integrated healthcare services than those who operated in separated medical systems.

Medical providers benefit from being able to streamline workflow and assisting each other in developing treatment plans (all while holding one another accountable). This results in a less burnt-out medical care team.

Burnout is a very real issue among medical care professionals, and has been leading to a shortage of professionals across medical fields. Provider burnout poses a serious problem for patients. When patients receive medical care from burnt-out caregivers, it results in less time spent with the doctor and more errors in the care given. The diminishing pool of medical providers is also causing health care costs to rise.

An integrated health care system helps bolster patient satisfaction by bolstering providers’ ability to share the load. Integrated healthcare also increases patient engagement by making people feel more in control of their treatment plan.

Having the options and feeling more engaged leads to more collaboration and communication with your care team. All of this adds up to a higher level of satisfaction and a higher quality of care.

Overall, patients who have received integrated health care services report an overall sense of high-satisfaction. When polled on what they found satisfying about the medical services they received, patients said that the primary highlights were positive, respectful provider interactions, convenience, affordability, and a positive impact on overall well-being.

Multidimensional Care For Multidimensional People

You’re a multidimensional person – so you deserve multidimensional care.

To really reach whole-person well-being you need more than just a primary care provider and a handful of specialists you see once in a blue moon. You deserve a dedicated healthcare team that can easily see you when you need it. This is the beauty behind integrated healthcare systems!

Without an integrated healthcare system, patients may never realize the benefits of holistic medicine or behavioral health services. However, when they’re receiving treatment from a primary care provider who collaborates with multidisciplinary medical professionals, it is easier for patients to receive suggestions that they may never have before. This can lead to unimaginable relief for those suffering from mental health issues, substance use disorders, and chronic conditions.

Even if you and your loved ones don’t struggle with any recurring behavioral or physical health issues, integrated care can help you find your best, healthiest self – and stay there – all for a lower cost than traditional medical systems and with fewer visits to the office.

Find the Care You Need at Meridian HealthCare

Meridian believes in whole-person health for all – and we’re here to provide it. We have a multidisciplinary care team available to address medical needs, no matter what they may be. See how we combine a traditional medical and holistic approach to deliver the best care possible..

We have over 50 years of experience providing superior care in the Mahoning Valley. If you’re looking for integrated care and providers who make a difference, then you’ve come to the right place. When you’re ready for multidimensional and creative care, contact us. We’re ready when you’re ready.