New Initiative Aims to Improve Veterans Health and Care Delivery
Integrating mental health services and primary care has long been seen as a key step to achieve better health outcomes. Nowhere is the need for integrated care more urgent than among America’s veterans, who often face complex physical and mental health conditions. Roughly one in three Veterans Health Administration (VA) primary care patients have mental health comorbidities. However, despite the widespread support for integrated care, actual translation into common practice has been challenging. To accelerate this process, several offices in the VA have joined forces to implement a model that deploys peer specialists at the crossroads of mental health and primary care.
Peer specialists are veterans who have been trained to use their lived experience of mental health and/or substance abuse to engage other veterans, provide support, and guide them through their treatment. Peer specialists provide a different form…
Clayton Velicer, MPH
Peers for Progress, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) cohosted a conference in April about the role of peer support in patient-centered medical homes and primary care. During the conference, we challenged each other to think about how peer supporters and community health workers can make the system more efficient, manageable, and affordable.
In this blog, we look at a specific example of incorporating lay health workers into the primary care health care team as “care guides”. The Health Affairs Blog highlighted the Robina project, which hired 12 lay health care workers (care guides) to work as part of a health care team serving patients with chronic diseases. These care guides did not have any medical training, but received a two week training on a number of topics including electronic health records, specific information about disease (hypertension, diabetes, and heart failure), tobacco…
Clayton Velicer, MPH
Continuing Health Coaching Programs in San Francisco
In spring 2014, Peers for Progress and the National Council of La Raza held a special meeting in San Francisco, California to discuss peer support programs for diabetes self-management around the world. Attendees expressed that one of the highlights of the meeting was having the opportunity to meet with peer health coaches from a local program at the University of San Francisco, California (UCSF). 6 peer health coaches sat on a panel discussion to share their experiences from working as health coaches. They were able to not only improve diabetes management amongst members of their community, but working as a coach also helped them with their own self-management. Hearing these powerful stories was inspiring for everyone with a passion for peer support.
Building on this experience, UCSF published a new study in April that tested health coaching delivered by medical assistants in place of peer health coaches….