Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Elevates the Critical Role of Primary Care Physicians in the Treatment of Patients’ Behavioral and Mental Health Care Needs

Meghan O'Brien

| 3 min read

A young, Black, male doctor speaks with a white, elderly woman in a patient room with large windows and a lot of natural light.
DETROIT, Sept. 13, 2022 – Recognizing the critical role primary care physician practices play in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of patients’ behavioral health care concerns, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) today announced the first 213 physician practice designations in its Collaborative Care program. Collaborative Care is a model where patients’ behavioral health care is coordinated within the Patient-Centered Medical Home primary care practice. Practices in 33 counties across Michigan have earned the inaugural designation. Collaborative Care adds a behavioral health component to the PCMH practice. In a Collaborative Care practice, a behavioral health care manager and a consulting psychiatrist are added to the patient’s care team. The behavioral health care manager works with the patient, the physician and the consulting psychiatrist to coordinate treatment. This allows patients to connect to appropriate behavioral medicine quickly and right from their primary care doctor’s office. “The Collaborative Care designation program builds on our award-winning Patient-Centered Medical Home foundation to provide additional support to members who need help with behavioral health issues,” said Amy McKenzie, M.D., associate chief medical officer. “We’re hopeful it will help address the current behavioral health emergency facing our country and state.” The Collaborative Care model is designed to help identify mental health and substance use issues and more quickly connect people to appropriate treatment. This also can help to avoid emergency room visits and costs associated with untreated mental health conditions. “Collaborative Care‑designated practices aim to identify and treat depression, anxiety and other behavioral health issues before they become bigger problems,” said Dr. McKenzie. “Because the health care team already knows the patient, they may feel more comfortable receiving behavioral health care right in their doctor’s office.” To earn Collaborative Care designation, practices must be designated as Patient-Centered Medical Homes. The Blue Cross Patient-Centered Medical Home program has been a foundational and nationally leading model for patient-focused primary care for nearly 15 years. It’s a systematic approach to providing care completely focused around the specific needs of each patient. This year, 4,604 primary care physicians in 1,666 practices across Michigan earned Blue Cross PCMH designation. These practices are in 96% of Michigan counties that have primary care physicians, and combined they care for nearly 3 million Blue Cross members. Patients in these PCMH practices, when compared to non-PCMH practices, have lower rates of hospital stays and emergency visits, because they get the care they need from the practice before situations escalate and require higher levels of care. For example, this year PCMH practices compared to non-PCMH practices had:
  • 5% lower rate of adult ambulatory care-sensitive* inpatient discharges
  • 5% lower rate of adult emergency department visits
  • 1% lower rate of adult primary care-sensitive** emergency department visits
  • 25% lower rate of adult readmissions to the hospital
  • 5% lower rate of high-tech radiology services for adults
  • 40% lower rate of pediatric primary care-sensitive** emergency department visits
  • 5% lower rate of overall pediatric emergency department visits
  • 7% lower rate of low-tech radiology services for children
For more information about Patient-Centered Medical Home, go to About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for more than 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit and

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