Menu Close


What Is Community-Integrated Care?

a group discusses the answer to "what is community-integrated care?

Providing access to different healthcare options lets people find the help and support they need to manage their conditions and live healthier lives. Access to different options is especially important for people who need behavioral health care. Community-integrated care can provide many with access they might not have otherwise. But what is community-integrated care?

If you help your community by operating a community-integrated care program, you know it doesn’t come without a list of challenges. Sunwave Health helps bridge the gaps across community-integrated care programs to provide secure access to patient information for pertinent providers. Learn more about our software tools for behavioral health providers by calling 561.576.6037 today.

What Is Community-Integrated Care?

Community-integrated care is a holistic approach to behavioral health care that emphasizes collaboration and coordination among various service providers, including mental health professionals, primary care physicians, social workers, and community organizations. At its core, community-integrated care aims to provide seamless, comprehensive, and patient-centered services while addressing the social determinants of health that contribute to mental health disparities.

This approach differs from traditional care systems in several ways:

  • Coordination – Community-integrated care encourages cross-sector collaboration, breaking down silos between different types of service providers.
  • Accessibility – By incorporating community-based services, this approach increases access to care for individuals who may otherwise face barriers to receiving treatment.
  • Prevention – Community-integrated care prioritizes early intervention and prevention strategies, identifying and addressing risk factors before they escalate into more severe mental health issues.

Different community leaders will promote and facilitate care programs that are most appropriate for their area and the circumstances community members live in.

Types of Community-Integrated Care Programs

There are several common types of community-integrated care programs, each with unique features and levels of effectiveness:

Integrated Primary and Behavioral Health Care

This model combines primary care and behavioral health services under one roof, creating a “one-stop shop” for patients. By offering comprehensive care, this approach reduces the fragmentation often experienced by individuals with complex needs and ensures better coordination of care.

Collaborative Care

Collaborative care is a team-based approach that involves primary care physicians, behavioral health specialists, and care managers working together to provide coordinated treatment for patients. This model relies on regular communication and shared decision-making among team members, resulting in improved patient outcomes and increased satisfaction.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)

ACT is an evidence-based, intensive, and highly personalized approach to treating individuals with severe mental health conditions. ACT teams consist of multidisciplinary professionals who provide support in areas such as housing, employment, and medication management. By offering wraparound services, ACT teams are able to address the complex needs of their patients more effectively than traditional care systems.

These specialized services have many benefits for patients, providers, and community members.

Benefits of Community-Integrated Care

Community-integrated care offers numerous benefits for both patients and the healthcare system:

  • Improved access – By incorporating community-based services, this approach reduces barriers to care, ensuring that more individuals receive the support they need.
  • Better outcomes – Research shows that community-integrated care models lead to improved patient outcomes, including reduced hospitalizations, increased adherence to treatment plans, and improved overall health.
  • Cost-effectiveness – By addressing the social determinants of health and prioritizing prevention, community-integrated care can reduce overall healthcare costs in the long run.

Even with the many benefits afforded by community-integrated care, there are several operational challenges for directors to consider when improving and running their programs.

Operational Challenges of Community-Integrated Care

Implementing community-integrated care programs can be challenging due to various organizational, legal, and logistical issues, like:

  • Organizational culture – Shifting from a traditional care model to a community-integrated approach requires a significant change in mindset and organizational culture, which can be difficult for some providers to embrace.
  • Funding and reimbursement – Securing adequate funding and navigating complex reimbursement structures can be a major barrier to implementing community-integrated care programs.
  • Staff training and development – Ensuring that staff are adequately trained and prepared to work within a community-integrated care model is essential, but can be resource-intensive.
  • Data sharing and privacy – Coordinating care across multiple providers and organizations requires effective data sharing, which can be complicated by privacy concerns and legal restrictions.

Despite these challenges, community-integrated care represents a promising approach to improving behavioral health outcomes and addressing mental health disparities.

Bridge the Gaps with Sunwave Health

Now that you know what community-integrated care is, do you think your practice could participate? If you think so, or if you currently run a community-integrated care practice, Sunwave Health can help. Our software solutions promote provider access and patient security at the highest level.

We empower providers to increase coordination across multiple healthcare settings and securely share medical records and other patient information. This enables more effective communication, improved continuity of care, and enhanced patient outcomes. Find a solution today by calling 561.576.6037 or contacting us online.