Integrating Primary Care & Behavioral Health at Lynn CHC: Kiame Mahaniah & Mark Alexakos

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Primary care models integrating behavioral health services are being adopted across the country. This week, we talked with two leaders at the Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC), Dr. Mark Alexakos and Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, about their experience with integration.

LCHC is unique among community health centers in that it started out as a mental health counseling center, and now has the largest community health center-based behavioral health program in Massachusetts. In this conversation, we talk about what it means to integrate behavioral health services with primary care clinical services – how it can reduce the fragmentation of services to better meet the needs of patients and the demand for mental health care (2:40), why it may better position clinics participating in accountable care (7:40), what successes they’ve seen (8:45), and the resources it has required (12:28). Along the way, our guests make it clear that the staff at LCHC love working in integrated teams. You can learn more about various other models of integrated behavioral health here.

Mark Alexakos MD, MPP, is the chief behavioral health officer of LCHC. He has a joint degree in medicine and public policy and developed an early interest in the interface between policy, research, and service delivery as they relate to access barriers, health disparities, and community health. Before working at LCHC, he spent seven years developing intensive, school-based mental health services that combined health promotion and prevention with quick access to behavioral health treatment in five Boston Public Schools.

Kiame Mahaniah, MD, is the chief executive officer of LCHC, though at the time of this interview, he served as the chief medical officer. His passion resolves around social and restorative justice, in the context of healthcare.   His twin clinical interests are teaching—he holds an appointment at the Tufts University School of Medicine—and integrating opioid addiction treatment into the primary care/behavioral health matrix.

This interview was edited lightly for length and clarity.

photo credit: Lynn Community Health Center

How do we improve the value of care delivered in primary care? with John Mafi

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All of us like to think that we provide high-value care for our patients; but the truth is, just like the rest of the health care system, primary care provides a lot of low value care too – and we drive a lot of overuse. John Mafi joins us this week to talk about his leading research into these thorny, complex issues.

We talk about the definitions of high-value and low value care, his 2016 study in Annals of Internal Medicine examining rates of high and low value care among physicians, NPs, and PAs in the primary care setting, how practice setting may affect the delivery of high and low value care, and the essential truth that there is no free lunch in trying to solve some of the challenges in fixing primary care in the US. You can find Shah et al, which John referenced here; a recent study relevant to our conversation by Hong et al looking at clinician characteristics and frequent ordering of low-value imaging studies; and an extremely important new paper that John published recently in Health Affairs looking at the the impact of low-cost, high-volume studies on unnecessary health spending.

A little bit more about our guest:  John N. Mafi, MD, MPH is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA where he also practices and teaches. He also serves as an Affiliated Natural Scientist in Health Policy at RAND Corporation. Dr. Mafi trained in internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2012, where he also served as Chief Medical Resident and completed the Harvard Medical School Fellowship in General Internal Medicine and Primary Care in 2015. Dr. Mafi’s research focuses on quality and value measurement and how electronic health records can improve the value of care.

If you enjoy the show, please give us 5 stars wherever you listen. Tweet us your thoughts @RoSpodcast and leave us a message on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems. Or, you can email me at audrey@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you, and thanks for listening.

 This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Lori Tishler of Commonwealth Care Alliance – Caring for the Most Vulnerable Patients

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Have you ever felt lonely and overwhelmed in a clinic room with a patient whose needs are far beyond your skills and ability to meet? I have, many times, and so has our guest this week, Dr. Lori Tishler. Dr. Tishler is the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Commonwealth Care Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that cares for more than 20,000 of the most vulnerable patients in Massachusetts, duals, or individuals who have both Medicare and Medicaid.

We talk about how CCA’s member-centered approach (as opposed to a physician-centered approach) has helped her feel more effective in caring for these vulnerable patients. We talk about the range of services that CCA offers, the role of their care partners, and the freedom that their financial model permits – for example, they provide 90% of care to patients in their homes.

You can find the Atlantic Magazine article we referenced featuring CCA here, and find a few Health Affairs blogs featuring CCA here, and a blog post focusing on building the business case for a community paramedicine program here.

A bit more about our guest: Lori Tishler is the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Commonwealth Care Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that cares for more than 20,000 of the most vulnerable patients in Massachusetts, people who have both Medicare and Medicaid.  She oversees CCA’s physicians and is involved with clinical aspects of quality, utilization, and pharmacy.  In addition, she is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and an active member of the General Medicine Faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, As a caring and connected physician leader, mentor, and educator, Dr. Tishler’s passion has been providing care for the medically and socially vulnerable and making a difference in health systems for all.   Tishler has found that the most rewarding way to help change and grow our health care systems is to mentor learners who are interested in clinical care, leadership, and innovation.

Her leadership roles have extended outside of the clinic and outside of primary care.  She served on the Partners Healthcare Board of Directors, the Board of Directors for the Office for Women’s Careers, and the Board of the Schwartz Rounds while at the Brigham.  At Commonwealth Care Alliance, she teaches and presents nationally about our care model and innovations.

In addition to her leadership work, she continues to provide clinical care  Tishler feels that working as a clinician informs her choices and decisions as a leader.  Outside of work, Dr. Tishler loves to spend time with her husband and teenaged daughter, to travel, read, and knit.  She is honored to have been interviewed on Review of Systems.

If you enjoyed the show, please give us 5 stars wherever you listen. Tweet us your thoughts @rospodcast and check out our facebook page at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems. Or, you can email us at audreyATrospod.org. We’d love to hear from you, and thanks for listening.