The Farley Center Guides Rural Health Clinics in Kansas as They Integrate Behavioral Health and Primary CareDec 20, 2022
Rural Kansas is experiencing an alarming rate of suicide, particularly among residents working in agriculture. All rural residents, young and old, need and deserve better access to mental and behavioral health care and more tools to increase their overall well-being.
One tool available to health care providers to improve mental wellness is to integrate behavioral health support into primary care settings. This approach could be particularly impactful in rural areas, where specialized behavioral health support is often difficult to access.
Over the course of a one-year planning period that began in October, the Farley Center and the Practice Innovation Program (PIP) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are working with the Health Innovations Network of Kansas (HINK) to help rural clinics assess their capacity to integrate behavioral health support in primary care settings. Funded by the Sunflower Foundation, they will assess the readiness of 8 rural health clinics affiliated with HINK to integrate behavioral health and primary care. They will also facilitate opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and provide access to experts.
The goals of the project are to:
- Introduce the clinics to The Building Blocks of Behavioral Health Integration.
- Foster peer-to-peer support through learning networks.
- Prepare eight rural clinics to integrate behavioral health and primary care.
- Connect clinical leaders to subject matter experts, depending on practice assessments and interests.
In November, the learning collaborative had its first meeting virtually, during which it convened the group and introduced practice assessments that clinics will use to assess readiness and integration efforts through the planning year. They also chose a name: the Northeast Kansas Rural Health Clinic Integrated Care Learning Collaborative. In December, the learning collaborative will convene in-person in Kansas to review the assessments, prioritize topics for upcoming sessions, and set the foundation for collaborative learning.
About the organizations working on this project:
The Practice Innovation Program is a team of clinicians, researchers, and practice transformation experts within the University of Colorado Department of Family Medicine dedicated to fostering innovation in health and health care.
Since 2002, the Sunflower Foundation has worked behind the scenes in Kansas, directing resources toward helping people and communities achieve and maintain optimal health. The Sunflower Foundation invests in improving health care for the whole person. Their Integrated Care Initiative is helping safety-net providers integrate physical care with behavioral health care and at the same time, focus more attention on health and wellness (such as smoking cessation, other addiction treatments, healthy eating and weight management).
The Health Innovations Network of Kansas is a consortium of hospitals and clinics in northeast Kansas that is committed to strengthening access to quality health care within its geography by focusing on developing a sustainable workforce, bringing value to members through shared services, and maintaining financial stability within the network. Up to eight RHCs affiliated with critical access hospitals within the HINK will participate in this planning year project.
The Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus develops and translates evidence to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of health and social policy at the local, state, and federal levels. The FHPC was created in 2014 as an interdisciplinary and interprofessional health policy center to address systemic fragmentation and inequities that impede health and well-being.