Arizona Integrates Mental And Physical Health Treatment

By Stina Sieg
Published: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 2:10pm
Updated: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 5:22pm

Mental and physical health go hand in hand, so the Arizona Department of Health Services is about to change the way it treats both. The department will soon adopt what it calls integrated behavioral services.

Basically, a provider treating a patient for behavioral issues will also have access to that patient’s physical health record and vice versa.

Cory Nelson, the Deputy Director for the health department, said this holistic approach will improve care, especially for those with serious mental illness.

Nelson said about 15 years ago, those patients were dying an average of 32 years earlier than the general population in Arizona. Now, that number is closer to 25.

"But I don’t think there’s anybody out there in the country, and certainly not in Arizona, who still sees somebody dying 25 years earlier because of preventable health issues as an acceptable ratio," he said.  

Nelson said this move will also save the state money. The integrated system, which will affect mostly AHCCCS patients, will go into effect next October.

Updated 12/23/2014 at 5:22 p.m.

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