Why Model Fidelity is Important in Behavioral Health

July 14th, 2021 by Dr. Amber D. Gray, DBH

One of the things that patients like to see in a medical setting is consistency. When things are consistent in a hospital, the patient is able to guess what to expect for their care services. A patient generally knows that when they go to a specific hospital if they are going to be in and out of that hospital. Similarly, they may even know if the service at that hospital is atrocious. Another thing a patient will notice, is if the practitioners all engage in a similar treatment style.

Photo by: Luis Melendez

Model Fidelity

This is called model fidelity. Model fidelity is important in the world of behavioral health. Unlike specialty mental health, there is a general model by which all providers practice. Behavioral health providers follow the primary care behavioral health model (PCBH). This includes doctors of behavioral health, behavioral health consultants, and behavioral health specialists. There are PCBH guidelines to help providers with tracking and implementation. Why is this important?

Specialty Mental Health

With some providers having their foundational frameworks in specialty mental health, model fidelity may become difficult to adhere to. This is because specialty mental health operates by various frameworks with no uniform modalities. By contrast, the primary care behavioral health model has metrics that highlight the best features of behavioral health practitioners in primary care. The problem is, as the medical field becomes integrated, and absorbs aspects of specialty mental health, innovations can also negatively affect model fidelity.

Improvements At the Expense of Another Fidelity Metric

Adding a new type of service provider is helpful to any field that values collaboration. However, with that provider will come the nuances and traits of their field. When honing in on licensed mental health professionals, there is a variability in modality, that does not affect clientele in a siloed therapeutic setting. Yet, the same action in a medical setting produces negative outcomes. For example, if a provider chose to implement notation the way it was done in mental health services, it could interfere with the way data is managed and stored in a medical setting.

Doctors of Behavioral Health in Management

One of the good things about having a doctor of behavioral health in both clinical and management specialty on your medical team is for situations in which process and operations need efficiency maintenance. Doctors of behavioral health with a management specialty take quality improvement trainings. This allows them to produce high value return on investments for their stakeholders. In addition to this, doctors of behavioral health in management are trained in tracking. Tracking can help hospital administrators to make decisions on whether to continue with an innovation, improvise on it, or scrap it.

Model Fidelity Keeps Operations Smooth

Model fidelity keeps operations running smoothly. It keeps the medical facility on track. It helps guide innovations. This ultimately leads to improved service for patients. Consistency is what separates the PCBH model from other models. As behavioral health practitioners, this should be in the forefront of our minds, as we work in tandem with primary care providers.

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