New World of Medicine Focuses on Integrating all Health Care

The evolving universe of health care is quickly moving toward more team-based treatment of patients, which will be explored for the management of addiction in “Advancing the Integration of SUD Services and Health Care.”

“This is where medicine is going—to integration of behavioral services into mainstream medicine, and vice versa,” said R. Corey Waller, MD, MS, FACEP, DABAM, the course organizer. “This course will talk about some of the practical aspects of how to do that.

“We will talk about the legislative and regulatory barriers, and, more importantly, some of the emotional barriers when trying to approach a patient with a disease that not everybody understands.”

The course will be presented from 11 am to 12:30 pm Saturday in Room 412, Fourth Floor. It will feature three other speakers discussing integrated medicine in general and specifics about how their practices use integrated approaches.

“The approach we use for integrated team-based care is also a move away from this thought of one doctor, one patient, and it is more one patient, one team,” said Dr. Waller, Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan. “That team includes therapists, a physician, a medical assistant, and community health workers, and either you integrate those people into the current pathway of treatment, or you change the pathway of treatment so they can be integrated.”

Dr. Waller will discuss his clinic, which is fully integrated with behavioral health and mainstream medical treatments. The Spectrum Health Center for Integrative Medicine is not an addiction clinic, but 85 percent of its patients have a substance use disorder.

“We also treat their medical issues, their psychological issues, and their social issues, and we have been able to fully integrate that into a single platform,” Dr. Waller said. “Attendees will be able to see what it takes to integrate as far as the cost, the structure, the administrative aspects, the barriers, and lessons learned so they don’t have to re-invent the wheel in trying to do this.”

Becky D. Vaughn, MSEd, Vice President of Addictions for the National Council for Behavioral Health, Washington, DC, will discuss her group, which is a society of members who operate behavioral health programs that focus on integration.

“She will bring this national perspective to the table about what is happening in many places around the country and what are some of the barriers they have found,” Dr. Waller said.

Les Sperling, BA, LAC, is Chief Executive Officer of the Central Kansas Foundation, Salina. “He has worked with primary care practices to integrate the aspects of addiction treatment within a primary care setting,” Dr. Waller said.

Ned J. Presnall, LCSW, is Executive Director of Clayton Behavioral, Saint Louis, Missouri, which offers a variety of mental health clinical services. It uses the strategies of cognitive behavioral therapy to help clients understand the sources of their emotional distress and unwanted patterns of behavior.

“The hope is that people walk away knowing this is possible—and inevitable,” Dr. Waller said of integration. “We treat one patient, and to think we can’t do that in one system doesn’t make any sense.”