Patients who have unrecognized or under treated mental illness utilize more medical services than those patients without mental illness. In addition, they experience greater fragmentation of care and duplication of services. Attempts at addressing these barriers to care have led to the development of integrated behavioral health (IBH) programs, such as the E-Merge program being implemented within the Travis County Healthcare District (TCHD). The fundamental goal of such IBH programs is to improve chronic disease management while addressing underlying behavioral and mental health needs of the patient. Currently there is little data on the impact of IBH programs in the community setting, particularly in underserved populations.

An evaluation of TCHD’s E-Merge program will be conducted by researchers in the UT College of Pharmacy (Kenneth Lawson, PI) working in collaboration with the UT School of Social Work (Kirk von Sternberg, PI). Dr. von Sternberg, co-director of the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute (HBRT) at the School of Social Work, and his research team will be responsible for the development, delivery, data entry, data analysis, and reporting of a patient exit interview and a physician interview results to the TCHD.