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

Tom Bodenheimer – Building Blocks of High-Performing Primary Care and the Quadruple Aim

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Dr. Tom Bodenheimer is one of the world’s foremost experts in primary care re-design, having recently written about high-performing primary care clinics and the Quadruple Aim, which are articles consistently in the most-read list for the Annals of Family Medicine and among his most cited work.  We focused much of our conversation on his work visiting 23 high-performing primary care practices, what he and co-authors learned, how resident teaching sites can also be high-performing, and why we should be seeking a fourth aim in addition to IHI’s famed Triple Aim.

A general internist who received his medical degree at Harvard and completed his residency at the University of California-San Francisco, Dr. Tom Bodenheimer spent 32 years in primary care practice in San Francisco’s Mission District, a primarily low-income, Latino community—ten years in community health centers and 22 years in private practice.  He is currently Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF and Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care.  He has written extensively in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Annals of Family Medicine, and Health Affairs, on health policy and health care delivery for chronic disease management, including patient self-management, health coaching, and team-based care. He is also co-author of the books Improving Primary Care: Strategies and Tools for a Better Practice, and the health policy text book Understanding Health Policy.

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.