Healthwatch 16: Integrative Behavioral Health

POTTSVILLE, Pa. -- Just like kids sometimes need to see a doctor for a physical problem, many could sometimes use the services of a psychologist for a mental health problem.

Getting those services to the right people is the goal at Geisinger Pediatrics in Pottsville, using something called integrative behavioral health.

"In the traditional model, the doc would make a referral, tell the patient, set up an appointment and it turns out 30 to 50% of the patients wouldn't show up for the appointment," said Dr. Bill Gianfagna.

Dr, Bill Gianfagna, or Dr. G as he's known, has been a pediatrician in Schuylkill County for 35 years.

Integrative behavioral health means he can walk down the hallway and talk with a pediatric psychologist on staff right away.

"It's so much easier to say I know so and so, they can really help you, let me go them and you can meet them," said Dr. G.

Pediatric psychologist Dr. Monika Parikh says the partnership helps her too because people listen to their doctors. A better connection is made.

"They trust the pediatrician will have them see someone they trust," said Parikh.

And she says integrative behavioral health also helps reduce the stigma that can come along with seeking mental health care. It can even be, as she points out, preventative.

"You're gonna come see Dr. Monika and I'm not the kind of doctor that puts my hand on you. I don't do shots. I'm the doctor that helps with feelings and thoughts," said Parikh.

In the few years the Geisinger Pottsville facility has practiced integrated behavioral health, Dr. G and Dr. Parikh say more young patients who need care are getting it and they won't be surprised if it becomes the norm at doctors offices down the line.