Rapid Behavioral Health Learning Series for PCPs

Frances Chalmers, MD, FAAP
Co-chair, WCAAP Health Care Transformation Committee

In early April, while clinicians were deep in the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCAAP responded to provider requests, funded, and delivered a Rapid Behavioral Health Learning Series to assist primary care providers in supporting and treating their growing panel of patients with behavioral health concerns.

The idea for the training came about in the midst of learning how the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting providers and patients alike, through learning from the Chapter’s Amerigroup-sponsored Behavioral Health Integration Networking and Collaboration Group that some of the most pressing clinical concerns providers were facing were in the area of behavioral and mental health. Specific requests were for help managing heightened anxiety and depression, working through the new telehealth modality, challenges in managing behavior, sleep, ADHD, substance use and Post-Partum Mood Disorder. Also requested were ways a medical provider might enhance their BH provider/patient/family communication and interaction skills in general.

The series was very generously supported financially by Community Health Plan of Washington, Molina Healthcare, and the University of Washington Department of Pediatrics – General Pediatrics Division.

Dr. Larry Wissow and Dr. Bob Hilt, Seattle Children’s Psychiatry Department leaders, provided expert clinical input, support, video content, and training.

The goal of the series was to enhance the skills of pediatric primary care providers to address behavioral health needs in the new healthcare context and to offer a space for providers to learn from one another while receiving expert guidance.

The Rapid BH Learning Series covered a six-week time period from April 30-June 11 and consisted of a combination of self-learning online and four interval training and discussion sessions. Every two weeks participating providers watched two 15-20-minute webinars on specific clinical content and then participated in a facilitated 60 minute learning session sharing what they had learned. Participant-provided case examples spurred further peer to peer discussion, both live and in the chat mode, which heightened the value for all participants. The videos and supporting PowerPoint outlines, recordings of the sessions, chat conversations, and various resource links have all been posted on the WCAAP website under Behavioral Health Education.

Specific Lesson topics included:

  1. Involving everyone, agendas, and helping identify ‘the question’
  2. Finding solutions and giving advice
  3. (Nearly) universal mental health interventions
  4. Brief interventions for low mood and anxiety
  5. Approaching substance use in pediatric primary care part 1
  6. Approaching substance use in pediatric primary care part 2

This Learning Series was well received with over 230 providers initially expressing interest and an average of 106 attending the sessions. The sharing and networking along with real time access to psychiatry experts were a significant value added.

WCAAP is planning to offer a similar training series in the fall, with a smaller cohort of participants and a case-based approach. Stay tuned for registration information – space will be limited!