New England Quality Care Alliance Awarded Behavioral Health Grant to Treat Patients with Chronic Illness

June 3, 2013

Funding to support integration of services in the primary care medical home
Braintree, Mass. (June 3, 2012)—New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA), the community and academic physician network affiliated with Tufts Medical Center, announced today that it has been selected by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) to receive $85,000 in funding to support the integration of behavioral health and medical services for patients with chronic illness.
The newly-funded project is a collaborative effort based at General Medical Associates (GMA), the adult primary care practice at Tufts Medical Center.  The collaboration brings together GMA and the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), an independent health care quality improvement organization, to support early identification and facilitate treatment of patients with chronic illness and co-existing behavioral health diagnosis.  For those who do not receive appropriate treatment, mental illness can often adversely affect the management of diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
“As we have seen in other areas of our work, we expect to see improved health outcomes, resulting in better quality of life for our patients and decreased health care costs for preventable complications,” said Mike Cantor, MD, JD, Chief Medical Officer of NEQCA.  “We are excited about all it is that we will learn from this experience with GMA and MHQP, and the potential it brings for providing better care at a lower cost.”
The HPHC grant will integrate a care manager into the daily workflow of the practice.  The role of the care manager will be to screen patients for depression and unhealthy substance use, and facilitate access to care for the patients who need it.  In turn, a supervising psychiatrist will oversee the intervention and in a team based approach, coordinate care with the patient’s primary care provider.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding to improve the health and quality of life of our patients,” said Joan Kross, MD, Medical Director of the Tufts Medical Center Local Care Organization.*  “By focusing on patients with chronic conditions in which the coexistence of behavioral health disorders is prevalent, and being able to provide them with behavioral health treatment within their medical home, we believe we can improve compliance with medication management and help patients lead healthier lives.”
A team at GMA has already participated in training through MHQP to learn more about the Partners in Integrated Care (PIC) model, the model to be used as the basis for clinical care provided by the care manager.  The model uses a cost-saving and evidence-based approach to address depression and unhealthy substance use in primary care settings.
“MHQP is delighted to collaborate with General Medical Associates and NEQCA on this innovative approach to integrating behavioral health care in the routine of the primary care visit," says Barbra Rabson, Executive Director of MHQP.  “Partners in Integrated Care (PIC) has proven successful in other regions of the country.  We are pleased that GMA is taking the lead in implementing this care model in Massachusetts."

About New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA)

New England Quality Care Alliance is a partnership of community and academic physicians dedicated to providing comprehensive, innovative, high-quality and affordable health care that brings value to their patients and the community.  NEQCA is comprised of almost 500 primary care physicians and pediatricians along with more than 1,100 specialists, located in practices across Eastern Massachusetts, from the Merrimack Valley to Cape Cod,  *NEQCA physicians are organized into groups called Local Care Organizations (LCOs), and are on staff at community hospitals throughout Eastern Massachusetts.  The NEQCA network is integrated with Tufts Medical Center, the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine and the Floating Hospital for Children, the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine.  For more information, please visit:

About General Medical Associates (GMA)

General Medical Associates (GMA) is the main adult primary care practice at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. GMA primary care physicians and health care professionals are committed to disease prevention, treatment and health maintenance, and to providing patients with world-class care.

 The GMA practice includes physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and support staff. Our physicians are a diverse group of providers who are expertly trained and have extensive experience in primary care and preventive medicine. The GMA nurse practitioners are licensed to provide patient care, work in collaboration with the physicians and are available to see patients for well visits, follow-up and urgent care visits. The registered nurses in the GMA practice provide a wide array of helpful services to our patients, including phone consultations.