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

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.

Understanding High Utilization of Unscheduled Care in Pregnant Women of Low Socioeconomic Status – Mehta et al

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This week, we are discussing an article from the Journal Women’s Health Issues, entitled: Understanding High Utilization of Unscheduled Care in Pregnant Women of Low Socioeconomic Status, by Pooja Mehta, Tamala Carter, Cjloe Vinoya, Shreya Kangovi, and Sindhu Srinivas. Pooja Mehta, the lead author of the study, joins us for our conversation. 

You can find the interview with Dr. David Buck referenced in our conversation here.

Dr. Mehta is Director of Maternal & Women’s Health Policy for the Consortium for Health Care Transformation, and Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Systems Management and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, advising the Louisiana Department of Health and Medicaid Program.

Dr. Mehta’s interests are in the use of health care delivery innovation and community-engaged accountable care models to reduce reproductive health disparities, pregnancy-associated mortality, and low-value care, and to support patients with complex health and social needs. Her research has been supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes, google play, stitcher or your favorite podcasting app, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @RoSpodcastand are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at audrey@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Listen at the end of the episode for a promo code to receive 15% off registration fees for an upcoming conference from the Harvard Center for Primary Care: Primary Care in 2020 – Future Challenges, Tips for Today.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Journal Club – Exploring the Patient and Staff Experience with the Process of Primary Care

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This week, we bring you a journal club on the manuscript: Exploring the Patient and Staff Experience with the Process of Primary Care, which was published in Annals of Family Medicine in the July/August 2015 issue by Elizabeth J Brown, Shreya Kangovi, Christopher Sha, Sarah Johnson, Casey Chanton, Tamala Carter, and David Grande.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes, google play, stitcher or your favorite podcasting app, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @RoSpodcast and are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Harold Pollack – ACA and AHCA Update

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This week we are joined a few days early by Harold Pollack to bring you a timely update on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and American Health Care Act (AHCA) legislation that is moving quickly through congress.

Harold has published widely at the interface between poverty policy and public health including the effects of health reform and the ACA. Today we talk about the current state of the repeal and replace effort in the Senate and what effects their bill would have in terms of individuals who would lose coverage or find it much more expensive should the bill pass. We also discussed the very dramatic changes the bill would likely make to Medicaid and how that might affect the poor and vulnerable people that the program serves, and in particular how it might impact the raging opiate epidemic. Lastly, we talk about what a bipartisan solution to many of the very real problems of the ACA might look like, and what impact individuals can have on policy by calling congress. You can find more information about the unusual legislative process here, and the lack of information available on the bill here. Read about the effects that changes to Medicaid might make for disabled individuals here, and listen to Matt Broaddus of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities discuss block granting and per capita caps on Medicaid here. If you would like to reach out to your Senator to talk with him or her about the legislation and how it might affect you or your patients, you can find your Senator’s contact information here.

Harold is the Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration, an Affiliate Professor in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division and the Department of Public Health Sciences and Co-Director of The University of Chicago Crime Lab and a committee member of the Center for Health Administration Studies (CHAS) at the University of Chicago. He tweets @haroldpollack.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes or stitcher, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @rospodcast and are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Journal Club – Los Angeles Safety Net Program eConsult System Was Rapidly Adopted and Decreased Wait Times to See Specialists

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For this week’s journal club, we are talking about a recent paper from Health Affairs entitled: Los Angeles Safety Net Program eConsult System Was Rapidly Adopted and Decreased Wait Times to See Specialists  by Michael Barnett, Hal F. Yee Jr, Ateev Mehotra, and Paul Giboney. The paper describes and analyzes data from an e-consult system that was rolled out to a network of hundreds of safety-net clinics in Los Angeles County. We are thrilled to have the lead author, Michael Barnett, join us for our discussion! Michael is an Assistant Professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a primary care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He publishes prolifically on a variety of topics, and is particularly interested in the primary care-specialty care interface.

Do you use e-consults in your practice? Or do you wish you had access to such a system? Please tweet us your thoughts @RoSpodcast, or drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. And, let us know what manuscripts you think we should look at in future journal clubs or who we should have on to talk about their work. We look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for listening.

Reprise – David Buck, Caring for High-Need, High-Cost Patients

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This week, Thomas Kim hosts the show and interviews Dr. David Buck, a family physician and professor of family and community medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.  He is the founder and president of Patient Care Intervention Center (PCIC), an organization that uses advanced population health methods to target super-utilization of the health care system and intervenes through intensive care coordination and case management. It’s based in Houston, Texas and recently opened a branch in Dallas, and they were recently featured on PBS NewsHour. Prior to Dr. Buck’s work at PCIC, he founded Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston (HHH), now a federally qualified health center for over 7,000 homeless in Harris County, as well as the associated Houston Outreach Medicine Education and Social Services (HOMES) clinic, a student-managed clinic at HHH in conjunction with BCM and the University of Texas Health Science Center. He is a co-founder of the Houston-based physician advocacy group Doctors for Change, and founded the Houston-Galveston Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. He helped found the international street medicine institute, and was appointed to the 15-member Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program advisory board created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2012.

You can find some CDC resources about Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs here, and a New Yorker article about the effects of ACEs on health here.
Dr. Buck is a graduate of the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas School of Public Health, as well as family medicine residency at the University of Rochester.

Emma Sandoe – Update on the AHCA & ACA

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This week, we are publishing the show a few days early to bring you a timely AHCA and ACA update. We are joined once again by Emma Sandoe, a PhD candidate in Health Policy & Political Analysis at Harvard University, for a discussion of the AHCA, the most recent attempt to repeal the ACA. You can find our prior episode with Emma, about the ACA, here. Prior to starting her PhD program, Emma spent six years in Washington, DC working on the passage and implementation of the ACA. She served as the spokesperson for Medicaid and HealthCare.gov at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and worked on ACA coordination at the HHS Budget Office.

We start with a summary of what happened this week and what were key factors in the ACHA’s demise (2:45), in particular the key Essential Health Benefits (9:00), talk about the future of the ACA (14:05), and ways that opponents of the law may try to sabotage it’s success over the next few years (15:25), and finally how lawmakers might address some of the very real problems with the law (16:57).

It turns out that healthcare reform is complicated, and advocacy does work as this Washington Post article shows. Listen to a show all about block grants and per capita caps on Medicaid featuring Matt Broaddus of the Center on Budget and Priorities here.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes or stitcher, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @rospodcast and are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Matt Broaddus: What are Medicaid Block Grants?

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This week we are joined by Matt Broaddus to talk about block granting Medicaid, which is a major health policy change that the Trump administration plans to pursue in the coming months. Matt is a Research Analyst in the Health Division at The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan research and policy institute in Washington DC. His policy, research, and analytical work is conducted in the areas of Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance Programs.

We start with an overview of the Medicaid program, the largest insurance program in the US. We touch on the possible benefits of block granting (19:00), and how it may affect other industry stakeholders such as health systems, hospitals, community health centers, and insurers that offer Medicaid managed care products (23:20). Lastly we discuss another block granted program, CHIP and why many see it as a successful block grant program (29:00), and one other suggestion that has been made for Medicaid reform, per-capita funding (32:45).

You can find the article we mentioned by Sara Rosenbaum here, as well as some additional resources on block grants from Kaiser Health News and The Commonwealth Fund.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes or stitcher, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @rospodcast and are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Photo: President Lyndon B Johnson surrounded by supporters and advisors signing Medicare into law.