24th National Conference Theme Presentations: A Reform Objective – Better Integration of Clinical Medicine and Behavioral Health

Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by Lee Burnett, DO, FAAFP

On the second day of the 24th National Conference on Primary Health Care Access the first of a series of presentation on “reform objectives” – desired changes in the way American health care is provided.

Eugenie Lewis, MHSA, LCSW; JWCH Institute, Los Angeles
Eugenie Lewis, MHSA, LCSW; JWCH Institute, Los Angeles

Following the overview panel on the subject, 24th National Conference: the Potential for Primary Healthcare Improvements as a Result of Reform Legislation, two presentations will address the issues of how better to integrate clinical medicine and the behavioral health sciences.

First, Eugenie Lewis, MHSA, LCSW,  will present a Thought Provocateur session on the subject of integrating behavioral and clinical medicine in the community health center setting.

Ms Lewis has been associated with the rural health and community health center movements for over three decades.

She is co-author, with Dr Darryl Leong, of A New Academic Institution – The Ambulatory Teaching Center: An E-publication of the National Conferences on Primary Health Care Access.

John Boltri, MD; Wayne State University, Detroit
John Boltri, MD; Wayne State University, Detroit

Second, a plenary panel discussion will be held on the findings of a study of pyschiatric patients, comparing those who had a primary care physician and those who did not.

The panelists are the authors of the study, Doctors John Boltri, Chair of the Department of Famly Medicine at Wayne State University in Detroi and Mark E. Clasen, Emeritus Professor at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.

Their preliminary findings were reported on this website in November, 2012. [See Policy Issues in Primary Health Care Access: Psychiatric Patients Lacking a Primary Care Physician Experience More Lifestyle and Health Problems.]

Doctors Boltri and Clasen will be joined by Doctor Cynthia Olsen, Chair of Wright State University’s Department of Family Medicine.

Mark E. Clasen, MD, Ph.D.; Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
Mark E. Clasen, MD, Ph.D.; Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

Notes on the Policy Background

The need for better coordination of efforts to address both the clinical and behavioral aspects of health was one of the major concerns of the armed forces, based on their experiences during the Second World War.

As proposals for reforming physician training evolved in the mid-20th century, considerable attention was spent on how to better incorporate the behavioral sciences into the teaching of clinical medicine.

Pioneers of this effort included the late F. Marian Bishop, Ph.D., MSPH (a Senior Fellow of the National Conferences) and her husband, Robert Froehlich, MD.

From the beginning of the new family medicine specialty, the teaching of the behavioral sciences was incorporated into the Essentials of Family Medicine.

Cynthia Olsen, MD; Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
Cynthia Olsen, MD; Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

The concept was also advanced in the evolution of the primary health care team and of the Primary Care Medical Home. However, despite the decades of support for the idea, many barriers remain to optimizing such integration.

After each presentation a Question and Comment session will follow. Each will begin with a Lead Question from a Senior Fellow of the National Conferences.

The Lead Question for Ms Lewis’ presentation will be by Virginia Fowkes, FNP, MHS, of Stanford University.

The Lead Question of the panel comprised of Doctors, Boltri, Clasen and Olsen will be by Ana Bejinez-Eastman, MD of the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital of Whittier, California.

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