Care Transformation Center Blog

Train PCPs on the behavioral health skills they need most

by Tracy Walsh and Clare Boczon

Integrating behavioral health services into primary care has been shown to significantly improve patient outcomes and reduce overall cost of treatment. But taxing workloads and resource constraints in the primary care setting can make it difficult for care teams to get started.

To most efficiently and effectively use limited care team time, a physician task force at Baptist Health Medical Group, called the Empowerment Team, applied a unique three-step solution. First, they used an evidence-based framework to identify the practice-specific barriers primary care teams faced in delivering behavioral health services. Next, the team surveyed providers throughout the medical group to gauge the impact of each barrier. Lastly, the program champions mapped these barriers to targeted training opportunities.

Keep reading to learn more about how they implemented this three-step process.

1. Inventory potential barriers to integrating behavioral health care

Baptist Health Medical Group’s Empowerment Team used the Cabana Model of Barriers to categorize challenges into three areas of physician experience—knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Using qualitative literature and physician discussion, they broke down these concepts into specific examples that would resonate with their care teams.

Aligning Conceptual Model with Real Care Team Challenges

2. Survey providers to identify priority training targets

Next, a clinical champion from the Empowerment Team sent a peer-to-peer web-based survey to assess the extent to which care team members actually experienced each of the identified barriers. The survey was designed to be relatively unburdensome to participants, requesting just “90 seconds” to rate each of the 13 barrier statements.

3. Map barriers to practice-based solutions

Using this survey analysis, the Empowerment Team developed an in-house training program directly mapped to the top needs of the providers on their practices. The program included short lessons covering topics from the survey, such as the “burden of depression” and “medication side-effects.” The Empowerment Team included group discussion throughout the program, maintaining the fellowship of this peer-driven project. They received such overwhelming positive feedback that the program has been adapted into a series of videos that will be spread more broadly across the health system.

Based on this this principled approach, the Empowerment Team developed and customized a behavioral health training program within three months. Additionally, this clinician-led program only required about one hour per week of the Empowerment Team’s time. This physician-led group demonstrates how a minimal time investment and a commitment to an evidence-based framework can break down the barriers to behavioral health integration and ultimately support comprehensive, patient-centered care.


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Implement Baptist Health's survey at your institution


Find out what tips and tricks Baptist Health's Empowerment Team employed to achieve a high response rate on their survey, get their sample survey invitation scripting, and see their survey questions and key for evaluating survey dimensions.

Download the resources