My turn Initiative deepens support, improves care
By Don George | September 17,2013
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and the Brattleboro Retreat recently announced the development of a joint initiative, Vermont Collaborative Care, to begin integrating management of mental health and substance abuse services with those of other medical care. This is a very important first step in approaching overall care management in a different way, with a focus on improving the quality of care and the overall health of the Vermonters we serve.
Using data that offers a holistic view of the conditions that interact to affect members’ physical and mental health, care managers with different areas of expertise — and whose efforts are currently fragmented — will be able to work together in support of overall condition management and member health improvement. This is a significant change and first step.
But Vermont Collaborative Care offers other important innovations as well.
In addition to bringing together the management of mental health and substance abuse services with other medical care, Vermont Collaborative Care begins to transition health plan-based care management programs back to the delivery system, where the disciplines will be integrated at the provider level — not within the health plan. This is a major departure from the decades-old and much-criticized paradigm in which a fragmented delivery system often has required health plans to be positioned between doctors and patients. It also aims to support and advance delivery-system reform — which is perhaps the most essential element necessary to achieve Vermont’s overall reform vision of a system in which all Vermonters have access to timely, effective, affordable care.
Vermont Collaborative Care is a reflection of our commitment to strategies that deepen our support for our members, improve their health and the health care they receive, and support transformation of our delivery system in ways that are consistent with the goals and objectives of health care reform. We are confident that, working with providers across Vermont, it will produce genuine and tangible advances in each of these areas.
Don George is president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. v