The Importance of Communication

Spring 2017


Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (Neighborhood) and Beacon Health Strategies (Beacon) work together to ensure our membership receives the best and most appropriate care available. In keeping with that goal, we want to share with you some important information about why communication is key when patients are dealing with co-occurring behavioral health (BH) and physical health issues.

The high rate of co-occurring behavioral and physical health conditions underscores the gap between the behavioral health and primary care systems. Further, more than half of the care for behavioral health disorders is administered in the primary care setting. Consequently, the integration of primary care and BH services is essential to addressing a patient’s medical and BH needs to improve the overall health of that patient.1 It also reduces the negative impacts of disjointed care, which may include medication contraindications and medication errors.2

How can you encourage the collaboration between primary care and BH providers to support integrated care?

  • Request that patients complete a Release of Information (ROI) form with their BH provider so he or she can communicate with you about the patient’s care
  • Educate patients who do not wish to sign a release about the importance of providers sharing health information and stress the importance of coordinating their care
  • If the patient has an ROI on file, document any communication that occurs with the patient’s behavioral health provider
  • Coordinate prescribing to reduce the likelihood of  medication contraindications or errors
  • Refer affected patients to appropriate behavioral health providers and follow up with that provider

For further information, you can call Beacon at 1-800-215-0058, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thank you for your partnership and continued dedication to our patients.

  1. Unutzer, J. (2010) Integrated Mental Health Care, in Transforming Patient Engagement: Health IT in the Patient Centered Medical Home, October, 2010, 46-50.
  2.  Koyanaggi, C. (2004). Getting it Together: How to Integrate Physical and Mental Health Care for People with Serious Mental Disorders. Report by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Washington DC.