Letter: SIM grant a boost for patients needing occupational therapy

To the editor:

When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded Colorado with State Innovation Model (SIM) grant funding, the door leading to integrated patient care was cracked open and Colorado was given the opportunity to modify the delivery of both physical and behavioral health services, as noted in “Colorado receives $65 million ‘watershed’ grant for mental, physical health integration” (Dec. 17, 2014).

The goals of the grant are to coordinate and integrate a number of different health care services to improve the health and wellness of Colorado residents, and to implement a more holistic balance of care that focuses on the person, rather than the system. With implementation of this integrated system, medical and behavioral health will come together to paint a comprehensive picture of the whole patient rather than isolating one physical or one mental aspect of the person.

The SIM encourages collaboration among health care professionals to provide patient-centered care and as the program grows, the collaboration between physical and mental health should expand to include other health care fields, including occupational therapy.

Occupational therapists specialize in person-centered care, and work to help individuals do the daily activities that they want be able to do, need to be able to do, and are expected to do in their everyday lives. The unique perspective of care that occupational therapists provide would add immense value to an integrated care team, improving the health and wellness of each patient while providing person-centered care and helping to link physical and behavioral health services.

The SIM program will positively affect the ability to deliver occupational therapy services; with an integrated care team, occupational therapists will be able to collaborate with other health care professionals to give each patient the best possible individualized care. With the SIM grant emphasizing the importance of unearthing the root causes of a patient’s complaints, occupational therapy services will have additional opportunities to provide services by helping to connect the physical and physiological aspects of a person’s health.

Colorado residents will have an increased ability to access occupational therapy services under an integrated care system; the SIM will provide an opportunity for an interdisciplinary team of health care providers under one roof, which will allow individuals to receive comprehensive care in various aspects of their health.

As a future occupational therapist, I believe the SIM grant will improve the provision of holistic and person-centered health care services to Coloradans. By focusing on the whole person rather than one isolated aspect, providers will be able to integrate multiple aspects of each individual’s health and wellness into their personalized health care plan. The grant will improve access to occupational therapy services, and will allow occupational therapists to work with other health care professionals as part of an interdisciplinary team to deliver the best care for each patient.

Kelly Trautman

The writer is a student in the Masters of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Pittsburgh.



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