Integrating care for persons, not only diseases

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2009 Mar;16(1):13-20. doi: 10.1007/s10880-009-9154-y. Epub 2009 Mar 4.


Integrated care is geared toward enhancing usual care and decision-making for common combinations of medical and mental health conditions, including the behavioral health and behavioral change aspects. Yet even with comprehensive and well-integrated care for health conditions and well-coordinated teamwork in place, some patients do not engage or respond to care in the way clinicians would like or predict. This troubles patients and clinicians alike and may be chalked up informally to things like medical complexity (multiple co-existing conditions), mental health conditions (that complicate care), or simply the case being considered complex or difficult. It also raises the question of how to address person-specific factors that interfere with care of whatever conditions the patient may have, and invites behavioral health clinicians in medical settings to look beyond care of conditions to the care of persons, and to look beyond disease-specific care management protocols to master generic practices of care management across whatever conditions the person may have. This person-centered emphasis is intrinsic to the concept of the "patient-centered medical home" which has burst into animated discussion and demonstration among providers, health plans, government plans, employer purchasers, and professional associations across public and private entities. This represents an opportunity for collaborative care clinicians to help shape the national state of the art in medical home and includes a range of person-oriented (rather than disease-oriented) practices for care management, including working systematically with complex patients and difficult patient-clinician relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated*
  • Humans
  • Patient-Centered Care*