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Heathy Kids: Coordinated care aims to help more people be well

In January, the federal government gave the Oregon Health Plan a five-year waiver renewal. That renewal allows the state to continue to offer the Oregon Health Plan through coordinated care organizations, with a focus on integrating physical and behavioral health to provide better care to more people.

In 2014, pediatrician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw and her staff at Eugene Pediatric Associates began delivering health care under this integrated care model.

“We take care of the whole kid—the medical side, the behavioral health side and their social needs—in one place with one fully coordinated team,” she says.

Co-located under one roof, Eugene Pediatrics and Thrive Behavioral Health integrate medical providers and behavioral health specialists and encourages them to work side-by-side.

“There are a lot of problems effecting kids that have a physical component and also have an emotional component, so it’s important for us to coordinate for those kids. It helps us take care of them and helps them be healthy,” says Renee Villanueva, a child and family therapist with Thrive Behavioral Health.

About one third of Eugene Pediatrics’ patients are members of the Oregon Health Plan. Since implementing this integrated care model, the clinic has seen a dramatic drop in the number of patients making costly visits to the emergency room and being admitted to the hospital.

“Eugene Pediatrics is one of those clinics that I would say enthusiastically supported this model and they’ve been a real success story with regards to repeat admissions, providing care in a timely fashion, and preventing members from bouncing back and forth from the emergency room, hospitalization and the clinic,” says Dr. Thomas Wuest, Trillium Community Health Plan’s chief medical officer for Oregon.

Currently, there are four medical clinics and four behavioral health clinics in Lane County that offer integrated care. Trillium Community Health Plan, the coordinated care organization that manages services for Oregon Health Plan patients in Lane County, helped make this possible by providing grants to clinics, including Eugene Pediatrics, through the Trillium Integration Program. The goal is to give better care to more people at a lower overall cost. And the hope is to continue this model of care, regardless of what happens with health care at the federal level.

“For me, it’s just about taking care of kids,” says Dr. Bradshaw.

The vision of coordinated care organizations is to grow the integrated care model and have more physical health and behavioral health clinics working together. That entails a lot of organization, as well as funding challenges, however, the belief is that addressing the overall needs of patients in a coordinated fashion, makes for healthier patients overall.

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