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Health-care reform must involve psychologists, medical providers, educate patients
Date:7/21/2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. While some members of Congress and others are trying to repeal the healthcare reform law that was passed in 2010, known as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," medical providers have begun to implement requirements as the law slowly phases in over the next several years. For reform to be successful, one University of Missouri public health expert has determined that professional associations for psychologists and other medical providers need to be at the forefront of the planning stages, and that everyone, including providers and patients, will need to be educated on rights and responsibilities.

"We looked at psychology departments here in the United States and in other countries to determine what worked best when implementing the policies outlined in healthcare reform," said Nancy Cheak-Zamora, assistant professor of health science in the MU School of Health Professions. "Many providers, especially psychologists, work independently, but the new healthcare law is encouraging providers to develop a medical team approach, one that can tackle many different aspects of a disease."

The new law encourages providers to bundle payment methods, study best practices, and develop accountable care organizations (ACO), which are formal groups or institutions that include teams of general practitioners and specialists taking a team approach to patient care. ACOs will have a financial stake in the outcomes of their patients. These changes could force a major shift in health care providers' practices, including those in psychology and rehabilitation. Physicians and psychologists, and specifically rehabilitation psychologists, need to move away from the traditional model of considering mental and behavioral health care services as separate from medical care, Cheak-Zamora said.

Cheak-Zamora said that large professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, should take the lead to help form expectatio
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Contact: Christian Basi
BasiC@missouri.edu
573-882-4430
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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