Finding their voices: Patients speak up

by Heather Grimshaw, Communications Manager, SIM

Laura Carroll talks about the value of receiving integrated behavioral and physical health care in concrete terms with specific examples of how “whole-person care” has helped her family.

“That behavioral health piece is so very important and something that we’ve really been missing as a ‘whole health’ model, so I’m excited that the state of Colorado is stepping up to do something about it,” Carroll said during a recent podcast with the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM) team.

SIM, a federally funded, governor’s office initiative, is working with 246 primary care practice sites and four community mental health centers. It will reach 25 percent of the state’s primary care practice sites during its four-year time frame, which ends in July 2019.

Carroll, who participates on the Health First Colorado (Medicaid) Member Experience Advisory Council, values her ability to share her perspective and make positive changes. “It gave people who felt like they needed their voice to be heard an opportunity to use that voice,” she said during a recent podcast. “[It’s been] helpful and valuable for me personally but more importantly we see that we’re effecting change in the state. And that’s really exciting. We need more patient and family voices in the entire process of health care in the state.”

As a caregiver, Carroll has a keen appreciation for receiving the right care at the right time from the right care team members and praises her husband’s primary care provider to the hilt in the podcast. The one thing she laments: The provider did not ask about mental health or how his chronic pain had affected him.

“She keeps track of his case like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life, but never once did she say, ‘Do you want to talk with somebody? Do you think there are some things that are going on that you should get out?’”

It was only after her husband had a major car accident and saw a back specialist that he was asked, by the specialist, “Have you ever talked with someone about how you feel about being in pain all the time?” she explained. “And that was the first time ever since he’s been diagnosed with illness 20 years ago that anyone ever approached that question.”

What happened after he was put in touch with a mental health specialist changed his life.

“He’s still hurt, he’s still got challenges, he’s still not able to do what he wants to do but he doesn’t feel as if he’s the only person in the world who has felt this way,” she said.

Listen to the full podcast: bit.ly/patient-podcast.

Care teams hear patient perspective on integrated care

Patients are weighing in on integrated behavioral and physical health in primary care settings. And they appreciate the type of patient-centered, team-based care they are receiving at practices that are participating in the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM), according to patient testimonials in SIM podcasts.

“I have experienced the follow-up care, the calls, the team approach, and I feel very well taken care of and very safe” at this practice, said one patient, Mary Catherine Conger, who talked with care team members at the Roaring Fork Family Practice in Carbondale in December for a SIM podcast.

“That’s powerful,” noted Kris Hubbell, BS, RN, CHC, clinical quality coordinator at Roaring Fork Family Practice. “That brings tears to my eyes… Hearing that has made all of our hard work worth it.”

Care team members from the practice talked about some of the work they’ve completed as a SIM cohort-1 practice. And Conger, who listened carefully, said that she had benefitted from that investment of time and energy.

“The systems that you’ve put into place are effective and working,” she told the care team, which talked about the work they’ve done to ensure a patient-centered approach. “For the first time ever, I have been able to relax a little bit and feel like I’m not solely responsible” for my medical records and care.

Listen to the discussion between this patient and the Roaring Fork Family Practice care team: bit.ly/roaringforkpatient.


Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Resources, Practice Evolution, Practice Redesign