Love it or hate it, the Affordable Care Act is creating the most dramatic change in the health care industry since, well, the invention of the Band Aid.
All areas of health care are being impacted, including psychology. That’s why the American Psychological Association is tapping Abbie Beacham for help.
The associate professor of psychology and director of clinical training in Xavier’s PsyD program was asked to be one of eight members on a Presidential Task Force that examines how integrating psychologists into primary care clinics could enhance patient health outcomes and reduce overall costs.
The concept of bringing psychologists into primary care clinics—known officially as patient-centered medical homes—is a key component of the ACA. Rather than psychologists working separately from physicians, the plan is to bring the two together in a single clinical setting so patients receive care for both body and mind at the same time—and only get one bill.
“It’s a totally different way of thinking,” Beacham says. “It’s whole-person care, not fragmented care. We’re taking care of all of you.”
Part of Beacham’s task is to help determine how to train psychologists—both those currently in practice as well as those being educated in the field—on the new approach. It’s a paradigm shift, she says, and could be a challenge for some to accept.
“We’re becoming health services providers,” she says, “and not all psychologists see themselves that way.”
The yearlong task force is presenting its findings through a series of articles in both professional journals and mainstream media.