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2012 Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health Conference Highlight: Laura Galbreath on Tackling Challenges in the Integrated Health Workforce

Trends in Behavioral Healthcare: Join the Conversation

The Danya Institute developed a series of original articles on trends in the field of behavioral healthcare. This article in the series is by special guest author Gayle E. Morris.

In this video, part of the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health Conference, Laura Galbreath is the guest speaker from the SAMHSA/HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions, and she is presenting about Tackling Challenges in the Integrated Health Workforce. Galbreath begins by introducing herself and her company, and by giving a brief overview of a few topics for discussion. Her first key point is the topic of integrating primary care with behavioral health. She mentions that this will happen more on a state level rather than federal or local if the progression happens slowly. She also opens up with her explanation of a “medical home” and its impact on the work force and its way of delivering care. This is essentially the basis for the rest of her speech.

A major point that Galbreath makes is that healthcare is not just an issue in the United States, but rather that it is global. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 4.3 million workers, and this is by very narrow standards. This does not take into account the administrative workers in healthcare. The next major point Galbreath brings up is the health workforce shortage. She then explains what this means: there are fewer trainees in the field, less people willing to work in healthcare, and fewer jobs in healthcare. She follows up by saying there is no new money coming in, so she wonders what the best way to use what we have is. This question is answered later in her presentation. Next Galbreath speaks about the two types of competition: competition with other sectors, and competition with “self”, meaning behavioral health. She asks how an institution can be competitive and provide the services that customers need so that instead of choosing to go to another place, they will choose yours.

Her answer is that the institution must be a service economy; it must be customer-oriented, respond to its client, and be able to get clients the services they need. Next in the presentation, she comes back to the topic of using what you have to be the best. She poses a question about hiring someone who does not have the necessary qualifications. What do you do in the case that there are no applicants who have the qualifications? One solution is to cross-train. This may not always be the correct or best answer, but it can help when budgets are cut and when there are no qualified applicants. Galbreath speaks of what is called the “Tipping Point.” She argues that mental health is a huge part of overall health. She then provides a type of assessment for healthcare professionals; she poses questions for them to ask themselves about what is called “Triple Aim.” The three guidelines to aim for are helping to reduce cost, providing quality care, and giving access to those who do not have insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or other means of receiving the care they need.

Galbreath’s final few points are based around how we can train and educate healthcare providers to be even more effective in treating patients. She mentions that Maryland is fortunate in their training programs and internships and urges professionals to use their connections. She comments on how healthcare professionals can help patients self-manage their care; her ideas are technology based:  there are numerous apps based around health, and there are plenty of other types of technology that can be utilized for this purpose.

Galbreath closes her presentation with a reminder of things that are needed in the healthcare community, some being constant and ongoing training for doctors, case managers knowing their role, and social workers learning more about their role as well. She then entertains questions and directs listeners to the website where her facts and figures can be found, as well as other useful information for those in the healthcare profession.

View Laura Galbreath’s entire presentation on YouTube.

The conference’s full play list is available on YouTube.


Written by: Gayle Morris