Sign up for APA’s free integrated health care training

Training will be available in late July for psychologists looking to work in primary and specialty health care practices.

As the health care industry moves away using a fee-for-service payment model, the American Psychological Association is ready to help practicing  psychologists with the transition by training more than 6,000 providers to work in integrated care over the next three years.

In late July, psychologists will be able to access this training through APA’s Integrated Health Care Alliance, a free program developed to connect psychologists to a network of integrated health care teams and practices. Those who register and complete the training — which includes two courses on integrated care and business — will receive eight hours of continuing education credit (register for the training).

Psychologists are essential to improving health outcomes

Over the years, APA has shown how practicing psychologists who work on integrated health care teams can help improve patients’ physical health outcomes and quality of care.

“Health care in the 21st century is a team endeavor. If the team is successful, patients are healthier and all team members should share in the bonus payments for meeting quality and outcome variables,” says Douglas Tynan, PhD, ABPP, director of APA’s Office of Integrated Health Care.

Health outcomes are already becoming the basis for payment in Medicare due to implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). MACRA established new quality-based payment models for reimbursing Medicare providers. Physicians and other health care professionals receive bonuses when their patients’ health improves. Commercial and private insurers will likely adopt similar payment models.

“Health insurers are now looking for outcome as a critical variable related to payment. Insurers want to see the relationship between a treatment, or a diagnostic procedure with health outcomes. By paying for higher quality service and outcomes, it is thought that health care can result in a better patient experience, a healthier population and lower costs — also known as the “Triple Aim” outlined by Don Berwick, MD, in 2008,” Tynan says.

According to Tynan, all health care providers will need to practice integrated care to improve quality and reduce health care spending. A psychologist working in a primary care practice can help physicians with this by setting up universal screening for depression, smoking and developmental delays for all patients seen in the practice. Psychologists could also help patients with medication adherence or by providing brief focused psychotherapy for patients with depression.

“Psychologists can be instrumental in helping groups of patients meet their health goals by directly working with the patients or consulting with other professionals in a practice,” Tynan says.

The IHCA program is funded through a cooperative agreement between APA and CMS.

If you have a question about the program, email the Center for Psychology and Health. To register, visit the IHCA website.