Leadership Perspectives on Integrating Psychologists into Specialty Care Clinics: An Evolving Paradigm.
Journal of clinical psychology in medical settings
Integration of health psychologists into specialty care is a shift in the tertiary care construct that addresses all aspects of a patient's presentation, including psychiatric/social history, psychological well-being, and behavioral contributions to the disease process, assuring both optimal health outcomes and cost-effectiveness in a financially challenging healthcare environment. In this paper, we discuss leadership perspectives (physician and psychologists) on the factors involved in integrating a health psychologist into a busy tertiary care environment. Ultimately, we hope that this information provides a primer on how to frame a proposal for an integrated health psychologist emphasizing the elements important to senior medical leadership and administration. First, we briefly discuss the current payer framework, providing support for integration emphasizing costs and other metrics. Second, we introduce organizational structure models and strategies for integration. Lastly, we will discuss the unique skillset psychologists possess, and additional skills necessary, to be effective in the changing landscape of healthcare. We think this information is important both for leaders attempting to integrate a health psychologist into specialty care and for the early career health psychologist embarking on his/her first senior staff position.