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Community Care to receive Gold Achievement Award from APA

October 4, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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Community Care Behavioral Health Organization will receive a 2013 Gold Achievement Award from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) at its 65th annual Institute on Psychiatric Services in Philadelphia.

Community Care, which is part of the UPMC Insurance Services Division, was recognized for its support of shared decision making in mental health and substance use disorder programs. Advancement in shared decision making for improving the quality of health care is a focus in the Affordable Care Act.

Community Care has supported the implementation and operation of CommonGround, a unique software program designed by Patricia Deegan, Ph.D., that provides for shared decision making in psychiatric medication clinics. Its use is facilitated by peer-run decision support centers (DSCs) in, primarily, outpatient mental health centers.

In order to train and support these mental health centers, several Community Care staff members have been trained by Pat Deegan and Associates (PDA). PDA provides ongoing training and consultation as well as an opportunity for providers to share their expertise. Community Care also sponsors webinars for DSCs in Pennsylvania to provide ongoing support on a quarterly basis.

"This initiative encourages self-determination of individuals receiving services, provides access to peer support, empowers individuals in their recovery and enhances collaborative relationships between practitioners and members," said Dr. James Schuster, chief medical officer at Community Care. "We are proud to be a leader of implementing shared decision making initiatives along with other programs that promote wellness and recovery."

Community Care has implemented DSCs with CommonGround in 12 locations across Pennsylvania and has plans to add several additional sites. Individuals who use CommonGround report improvements in health functioning, symptoms, and progress in their recovery. In addition, over time, they report fewer concerns about the side effects of medications.

The American Psychiatric Association, the world's largest psychiatric organization, will present achievement awards to four mental health programs on Oct. 10, 2013, at the 65th Institute on Psychiatric Services in Philadelphia. Descriptions of the award-winning programs appear in the October issue of Psychiatric Services, a journal of the APA.

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