Re-Imagining Integrated Care: Meeting the Millennial Demand
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
By: Kimberly Garrison, Psy.D.
Most healthcare professionals envision the term integrated care as primarily existing within a Primary Care Doctor’s office with a behavioral health provider embedded within the clinic to provide short-term, solution focused care to the patients expressing mental health concerns. This model has allowed for the collaboration of care across disciplines to provide a whole-person health approach to patient care for the past several decades. However, fundamental to this integrated care approach is the assumption that most people have, and frequently utilize, a primary care provider. Yet for the first time in history, the largest generational group in the country, millennials, are forgoing traditional medical care in search of more convenient, consumer-centric and transparent health care options.
A survey done by Kaiser Family Foundation in 2018 demonstrated that 45% of 18 to 29 year-olds and 28% of 30 to 49 year-olds have no primary care provider (PCP) and these statistics are projected to rise over time with the changes to the healthcare climate. There are many reasons for the decline in PCP utilization within the millennial market, the most prevalent reason being that millennials have a very different definition of what it means to be “healthy” in their over-scheduled, hectic lives in today’s society. Their definition of health is centered on a balance across physical health, mental health and general wellness, rather than on the absence of illness as “health” has previously been defined. This shift to defining health in a more holistic manner has changed the game of what young adults expect from their healthcare services.
This generation wants immediate care, personal relationships, and a holistic approach to care (physical, mental and general wellbeing). In addition to seeking a different care experience, millennials are seeking psychological services more frequently than previous generations and are typically forgoing the traditional PCP relationship as a result. This shift is a call to action within the field of psychology to evolve the way we provide care and there is a significant amount of urgency to do so. Millennials are experiencing higher rates of depression, hyperactivity, and burnout, which are all impairing their ability to function and tragically ending too many young lives. If we can embrace this shift and bring their healthcare to them in a way that aligns with their values and expectations, then we can help these clients live their best life and redefine their health.
Innovative responses within the professional community have begun through taking integrated care outside the walls of a doctor’s office and place it within a consumer-centric setting that is more often familiar to millennials; their therapist’s office. The emerging integrated behavioral health private practice setting redefines healthcare delivery by making mental health the
foundation upon which everything else is addressed. This perspective of mental wellness as the primary focus which drives everything from behavioral choices to physical health decisions, honors what millennials know to be true. More people are beginning to accept the notion of, “If you are not mentally well then you cannot be physically well.” There is an onslaught of research that has demonstrated the importance of the mind-body connection and consumers are demanding access to more services than regular preventative physicals.
By re-envisioning healthcare as starting with the mind, the integrated behavioral health model allows for psychologists, counselors, social workers, medication prescribers, dieticians, yoga instructors and other specialists to collaboratively create a health plan that addresses every facet of a client’s lifestyle to support their overall health. However, this does not mean replacing primary care services as an integral part of the client’s healthcare picture. Instead, the goal is to create close, collaborative relationships with medical providers who embrace this holistic, team-oriented approach to care. As the largest demographic, millennials are driving innovation in the healthcare conversation and they are demanding services that align with their values and perspective of health, it is up to us as psychologists to evolve the provision of healthcare to meet the changing needs.
About the Author
Kimberly Garrison, PsyD, is the Clinical Director of The Collective Integrated Behavioral Health located in Denver, CO. The Collective is a multidisciplinary behavioral health practice that provides holistic therapy and psychiatry services to adults and young professionals. Dr. Garrison is a Licensed Psychologist in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Health and is certified in Nutritional Psychology. Contact Dr. Garrison at Kimberly.firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information go to www.collectivebh.com
https://www.kff.org/health-reform, Kaiser Health Tracking Poll - July 2018: Changes to the Affordable Care Act; Health Care in the 2018 Midterms and the Supreme Court: Ashley Kirzinger Cailey Muñana, and Mollyann Brodie. Published: Jul 25, 2018
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