I’ve written often over the last few weeks about our priority over the next couple of years to better integrate primary healthcare and psychiatric care in AZ, and that last week HHS approved the Health Homes Planning Grant which will focus on improving coordination of care and increasing access to primary care and prevention services, resulting in meaningful improvements in quality of life and health status.

Making integration happen effectively will take coordination among numerous parts of the Department (much like the work that was required for medical marijuana).  We’ll need to coordinate updated IT and business needs as well as public health prevention and licensing, and of course behavioral health.  Licensing will be an especially important partner because our medical and behavioral health licensing teams inspect AZ treatment facilities.

One of the challenges that we’ve been facing as we begin our integration efforts is that the licensing rules for medical and behavioral health facilities sometimes make integration more difficult than it needs to be, and one of our goals over the coming months is to overhaul our administrative code (rules) for behavioral health facilities.    In the mean time, our offices of Medical and Behavioral Health Licensing has been working very closely with a number of our service providers in the central, eastern and southern areas of the state to ease the licensing process as Arizona embraces integrative health care. Presently, there are a series of projects under construction that we anticipate will be looking to license this summer.

As part of our overall planning for the implementation of integrative health care, we’ve been connecting with prospective licensees to provide technical assistance, concentrating on architectural requirements and rule and service delivery. By taking a proactive stance with licensees, we can cut down on additional visits to the site to navigate compliance at a later date. That way, providers can start meeting the needs of their community in underserved areas.