By Kealey Bultena Sanford Health has earned a $12 million grant to help integrate behavioral health into primary care. The federal money is the largest operational grant the health system has received.
Doctor Tom Braithwaite is the chief quality officer for Sanford’s Sioux Falls region. He says at least half of people who visit a primary care physician cope with a behavioral health issue. Braithwaite says concerns like depression or ADHD are sometimes the reason for seeing a doctor, but not always.
"These things underlie or may be complicating the management of other chronic medical conditions," Braithwaite says. "We’re giving recognition to that and trying to bring those types of services to the point of care in a very integrated, coordinated way."
Braithwaite says Sanford is ensuring health care providers fully understand how behavioral health conditions link to physical wellness.
Among other uses, Braithwaite says the grant helps Sanford expand its Medical Home program, integrate behavioral health services into primary care, and increase the number of nurse health coaches available for patients.
"This is really a pivot point in how we are delivering care. This isn’t the pilot. This isn’t something that we really see as a trial balloon. We are strongly committed to this type of work," Braithwaite says. "What’s really happening through this CMS grant is that it is jumpstarting and accelerating the direction we think, here at Sanford, care needs to be delivered."
The $12 million expands programs with the goal of improving quality of care and reducing costs.
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