Back to Insights and Updates for ProvidersJuly 2023

Coordination of medical and behavioral health care

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At Point32Health, we believe collaboration and communication between primary care physicians (PCPs) and behavioral health care providers are pivotal to quality patient care, helping to minimize adverse medication interactions, allowing for better management of treatment, and improving follow‐up for patients with behavioral health and other medical conditions.

Because patients with serious medical conditions often have co-occurring behavioral health complaints (e.g., depression and/or anxiety, insomnia, substance use disorder) that can exacerbate their medical condition, using the primary care setting as a gateway for behavioral health and primary care needs has proven to be an effective way to address the needs of the whole person and improve health outcomes.

Coordinating care for a common patient
Individuals with co-occurring physical and behavioral health conditions often rely on multiple organizations and treatment professionals to provide their care, requiring effective coordination for improved health outcomes and fewer gaps in care. While Tufts Health Plan does not require referrals for outpatient behavioral health treatment, Point32Health encourages all PCPs to screen patients for any behavioral health concerns and subsequently initiate and coordinate care, as appropriate, with behavioral health specialists.

Communication among providers treating a common patient aids the PCP by confirming that the patient followed through on seeking care from a behavioral health care provider:

  • We encourage PCPs to request that other treating professionals provide them with relevant clinical information such as any medical, behavioral health, or substance use treatment and medications they are prescribing, and to document actions in the patient progress notes.
  • It’s also helpful to discuss with patients at their initial primary care session about the benefits of coordinating their care with other health care professionals.

Patient release of information
PCPs can assist behavioral health practitioners by requesting that their patient complete a Confidential Exchange of Information form (Harvard Pilgrim) or Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information form (Tufts Health Plan) to disclose information such as the reason for the referral (e.g., presenting problem, preliminary behavioral health diagnoses, chief concern), any medical conditions the patient may have or medications currently being prescribed, etc. You may also use your own release of information form.

Resources for additional guidance
We encourage providers to use to this Coordination of Care Check List to assist with documentation of processes, contacts, and other information integral to the whole-person treatment of primary care/behavioral health patients.

Point32Health believes the spirit of partnership and collaboration is the key to an exceptional health care experience:

  • If you need help finding a behavioral health clinician for your Tufts Health Plan patients, you can call the Tufts Health Plan Provider Service Center.
  • For assistance with behavioral health referrals for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care members, call 800-708-4414.

Editor’s note: Updated the Tufts Health Plan behavioral health contact number on 9/5/23. 

Audrey Kleinberg,
Director, Provider Relations & Communications

Annmarie Dadoly,
Senior Manager, Provider Communications

Joseph O’Riordan, Susan Panos, Stephen Wong,

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