The Power of Integrated Care
Hi everyone! My name is Sai Attaluri (he/him) and I’m from San Ramon, California. I am serving as an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Care Coordinator for HealthRIGHT 360, a Federally Qualified Health Center in downtown San Francisco. HealthRIGHT 360 was formed from the merger of the Haight Ashbury Medical Clinics and Walden House, a rehabilitation facility, in 2011. As part of this position, I coordinate care for patients with substance use disorders and conduct outreach to vulnerable populations in San Francisco to connect them to our medical services.
As a facility, HealthRIGHT360 utilizes integrated care, a holistic approach to treatment that incorporates health and social services to treat complex diseases like OUD. But why is integrated care an effective approach? Diseases like OUD are multifaceted and have biological, psychological, and social factors that each require some form of acute treatment. Patients with substance use disorders can experience a wide range of barriers when seeking treatment, such as environmental barriers like lack of transportation to healthcare facilities. I understood the importance of acknowledging such barriers whenever I helped patients coordinate transportation to our clinic.
Integrated care can help patients overcome such barriers. Along with access to primary care and mental health treatment, institutes such as HealthRIGHT360 offer housing, employment, and education services in order to create a comprehensive treatment plan for patients. In reality, treatment of addiction disorders is a lifelong process, and the ever-changing nature of a patient’s individualized needs can be properly addressed through integrated care. The ability to anticipate a patient’s needs allows for proper advocacy for under-served populations all throughout San Francisco.
Through my experience, I have enjoyed witnessing patients benefit from our services as they progressed through their own journey from addiction to recovery. While patients initially enter our facility seeking medical treatment for their substance use disorders, within months, many of them even end up accessing our education services in order to take classes for the GED and expand their job search. It has truly been amazing seeing patients improve their lives and turn the page to enter the next chapter of their life. Overall, integrated care addresses important elements of sustainable care, from proper delivery to accessibility, all pointing to it being an effective tool that can be further utilized in healthcare to treat chronic conditions.