Name: Gail Schonfeld, MD, FAAP
Organization: East End Pediatrics, PC
Focus or Specialty: Pediatrics Number of Practitioners in Organization: three full-time pediatricians
Please give us a summary of your practice.
We are a well-established, general private pediatric practice.
Who does your practice serve?
Local residents as well as urgent care services to people visiting the community.
Why did you choose to participate as a PPS as part of DSRIP?
I have always felt that there was a lack of adequate mental health services and wanted to do something to make them available to my patients. A few years ago, I began holding meetings in my building with mental health professionals and others who were interested in initiating mental health change in our community. We came up with some great ideas. You put a bunch of people together and it's amazing what can be done.
It took time and effort but we obtained a grant and were able to start incorporating mental health services into our practice. It was fantastic having social workers available to co-manage patients. The patients loved it. Outcomes were better. It became clear to me that this was the way things should be done. But, once the grant ended so did the services. I then decided to hire the mental health workers myself and convince the insurance company to pay me for their services as a member of my staff. The challenge has been to get the payments to be adequate to pay for the costs of the care.
When I learned about the opportunities the Suffolk Care Collaborative offered, our practice was ready. There was very little we had to change. Now we can have social workers and a psychiatrist within our practice, and it will be much easier to care for people who can't afford these types of services.
On which DSRIP project/s will you be working?
Our focus is on integrated mental health with physical health and we will be involved in many of the projects.
What do you hope the DSRIP program will accomplish in general?
A lot of times when people can't afford mental health services and until a catastrophic event happens, they don't get care and therefore end up in the ER. There's simply a lack of access and too many bad outcomes.
I hope that this program will help keep patients out of the hospital when it's not necessary for them to be there, by coordinating their care and providing services before it's too late and early enough for the problems to be easier to treat.
What do you hope the DSRIP program will accomplish for your practice in the future?
Instead of seeing patients end up the hospital when there's no reason for them to be there, we can see them intensively on an outpatient basis, and provide more personal care.
By being able to provide these services to children we can give them a healthy start in life, which can make all the difference for them. The real proof will be watching these children grow up into functional adults.
In your experience, what are the top three guiding principles of a successful population health management program?
Providing medicine, dentistry, and mental health in an integrated fashion. Clinical integration is part of it, the financial integration is the other part. We need to break down the silos and manage the patient together. We need to find what works best to keep the patient healthy. I also agree that screening, early diagnosis and timely treatment will be cost effective and with better outcomes.