How The Care Team Model Is Improving Mental Health Care

August 5, 2022

In the traditional path to psychiatric care, a patient seeks a referral from their primary care provider, or they may go directly to a psychiatrist to schedule an appointment. But, there's a systemwide challenge that is blocking access to mental healthcare by these typical means: a dire lack of psychiatrists.

One in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental health challenge. As the societal stigma around mental health disorders has decreased and healthcare has become more affordable, there has been a significant increase in the number of people seeking mental health services today. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the current workforce of about 45,580 psychiatrists must increase by 2,800 to meet today's demands for psychiatric care. Looking ahead to the near future, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing reports that the United States may need anywhere from 6,000 to 15,000 more psychiatrists by the year 2025 to serve the population.

A New Approach to Accessing Mental Health Care

Bloom Health Centers is incorporating The Care Team Model to address the significant shortage, while providing a skilled level of psychiatric care to assist as many people as possible. In the Care Team model, psychiatrists serve as clinical leads, overseeing a team of professionals with specializations in mental health treatment. Teams can include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, doctors of psychology, licensed therapists, and social workers, varying by practice.

Sometimes it is not necessary to bring together all of these providers for every patient. For instance, someone interested in behavioral therapy or talk therapy wouldn't need to meet with a psychiatrist. In cases where a healthcare professional determines that medication is a necessary part of the treatment plan, a patient would be required to meet with a medical professional with prescribing authority. This could include a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, based on the regulations of a particular state. Under The Care Team Model, a practice assembles the ideal team based on the strengths of each team member and the needs of the individual patient.

Quicker Access to Care

One of the greatest barriers to receiving psychiatric care is an individual's ability to make the initial connection with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. With extensive wait times due to the lack of providers, the initial motivation to seek care can wane. Worse still, someone that needs this critical help may continue to suffer or decide not to pursue the care they critically need altogether. With The Care Team Model, patients can be seen within days by a provider who can begin the diagnosis process immediately and ensure that those taking that critical first step for help never have to feel alone in the process.

A More Holistic Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants receive training in generalized health. That foundation allows them to build a complete picture of the patient's wellbeing. Here are a few examples:

  • What other health issues could be playing a role in the patient's emotional health?

  • Are medications for other conditions leading to psychiatric side effects? 

  • Are there steps the patient could take to improve their overall health while simultaneously alleviating negative mental health symptoms?

Depending on the state, nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants have prescription-writing authority and the patient may see them exclusively throughout their treatment. In some instances, patients may also meet with one of the behavioral professionals, such as a psychologist, therapist, or counselor.

Greater Affordability

It isn't out of the ordinary for a psychiatrist to operate a solo practice or for a few psychiatrists to run a small practice in which they do not accept health care insurance. Patients often must pay full rates out-of-pocket, which can be a strong deterrent in seeking or continuing care. Practices using The Care Team Model are much more inclined to accept a variety of insurance carriers. Within this Model, a patient may see any member of the practice who best fits their unique needs, often at the same rate, once approved by their insurance.

At Bloom Health Centers, we accept all insurance providers, including but not limited to Cigna, BlueCross BlueShield, Aetna, United Healthcare, and various federal programs. We have a dedicated customer care team to coordinate preauthorization and billing at every step of the journey.

Patient-Centered Care Is the Goal 

We believe you should never feel alone in your journey toward better mental health. With The Care Team Model, the personal connection and a greater level of care (and speed) are built-in. Professionals from different disciplines all work together to develop the most effective treatment plan possible, designed around you and your unique needs.
Contact us to learn how The Care Team Model at Bloom Health Centers could be the right choice for you.