For Immediate Release - October 03, 2016

Lynn Community Health Center Becomes Second Practice to Achieve PCMH PRIME Certification for Integrating Behavioral Health in Primary Care

HPC’s Patient-Centered Medical Home PRIME certification program recognizes practices that deliver comprehensive care by addressing both physical and behavioral health in the primary care setting.

BOSTON – Thursday, September 29, 2016 – The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) has certified the first practices under the Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) PRIME certification program. Envisioned by Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, HPC’s PCMH PRIME emphasizes the importance of behavioral health integration in primary care.  

Lynn Community Health Center, a non-profit provider that has served the City of Lynn since 1971, is the second practice to attain PCMH PRIME certification for its commitment to integrating behavioral health and primary care services and using innovative care models to provide high quality care.

Behavioral health conditions - including mental illnesses and substance use disorders - are commonly characterized by both under and delayed diagnosis and treatment. As such, there is growing consensus that behavioral health needs to be well integrated into primary care.

“The under-diagnosis of behavioral health conditions is a serious public health problem, nationally and across the Commonwealth,” said Health Policy Commission Executive Director, David Seltz. “The HPC’s PCMH PRIME program aims to tackle that issue, among others, to help identify behavioral health conditions early and before emergencies arise, just as the system does with other conditions.”

Serving over 39,000 patients, Lynn Community Health Center provides behavioral health services in the same location as primary care, dental care, eye care, pharmacy services, and social services. The health center regularly screens for mental illness and substance use disorders and has taken significant strides to address the opioid epidemic by piloting innovative models of substance use disorder treatment.  

Lynn Community Health Center is committed to serving low income communities with over 90% of its patients at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. It also serves a diverse patient population, including minority and non-English speaking demographics as well as children, adolescents, and elderly populations.

“Lynn Community Health Center was founded as a mental health clinic in 1971, and ever since has been a leader in expanding access to behavioral health care to medically underserved communities,” said Dr. Mark Alexakos, Chief Behavioral Health Officer. “Every primary care team at the health center now has fully integrated behavioral health services. This means that patients who have mental health concerns can meet with a behavioral health specialist during their primary care appointment, in the presence of their trusted primary care provider. As a result, access to mental health and substance use disorder services has tripled in the past 8 years. The Health Center fully supports HPC’s PCMH PRIME program as a way to improve the treatment of people with mental illness.”

“I was thrilled to learn that Lynn Community Health Center had been awarded PCMH Prime certification,” said Senator Thomas McGee. “They have long been on the forefront of treating the whole patient and I wish them continued success as a valued institution in our community.”

“Lynn Community Health Center has always been a leader in the integration of behavioral health,” said Representative Daniel Cahill of Lynn. “I applaud their excellent work in our community and congratulate them on their achievement.”

PCMH PRIME identifies components key to the integration of behavioral health care into primary care, and certifies practices that meet a majority of these criteria. The program seeks to provide benefits to practices and their patients by:

  • Supporting the use of evidence-based guidelines in treating patients;
  • Helping increase patient access to behavioral health care services;
  • Recognizing practices that deliver comprehensive care by addressing both physical and behavioral health in the practice setting;
  • Providing opportunities for practices to receive technical assistance from the HPC; and
  • Helping practices identify behavioral health issues, before they become acute, resulting in better outcomes and improved patient experience.

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The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) an independent state agency that develops policy to reduce health care cost growth and improve the quality of patient care. Among other initiatives, the HPC is responsible for monitoring the performance of the health care system, analyzing the impact of health care market transactions on cost, quality, and access, setting the health care cost growth benchmark, and investing in community health care delivery system transformation . The HPC’s Board governs the activities of the agency. To learn more, please visit mass.gov/HPC or follow us on Twitter @Mass_HPC