About Collaborative Care

What is the Collaborative Care Model?

Developed at The University of Washington’s AIMS Center, the Collaborative Care Model (or CoCM) is an evidence-based, patient-centered model of care that empowers providers to proactively address their patients’ mental health concerns in-office. Over 90 randomized control trials prove CoCM produces significantly better behavioral health outcomes for patients than “usual care.”

The Collaborative Care Model adds two new members to your treatment team—a behavioral health care manager (or BHCM) and a psychiatric consultant—utilizing their knowledge and strengths to optimize patient care. This model also employs a Systematic Case Review Tool, technology tailored to your team’s needs and essential for practicing population-based care.

The Treatment Team

The treatment team includes the Treating Provider (TP), Behavioral Health Care Manager (BHCM), Psychiatric Consultant (PC), and the patient. This collaborative approach allows each member of the team to contribute their expertise to guide the patient’s treatment.

Treating Provider

The Treating Provider is a licensed health care provider who oversees all aspects of their patients’ care and introduces them to CoCM as appropriate. They diagnose behavioral health concerns, prescribe medications and adjust treatment plans following consultation with the BHCM and the Psychiatric Consultant. They lead the treatment team, deciding when and how to incorporate recommendations from the Psychiatric Consultant.

Behavioral Health Care Manager

The BHCM is an MSW, RN or other licensed health professional with specialty behavioral health training. As part of the treatment team, they support a caseload of patients recommended for CoCM by the Treating Provider, serving as a point of contact for the patient. The BHCM facilitates patient engagement and education, provides brief behavioral interventions and systematically tracks the patient’s treatment. They also stay in regular contact with the Treating Provider and the Psychiatric Consultant to review the caseload and ensure treatment plans are adjusted as needed to meet established goals.

Psychiatric Consultant

The Psychiatric Consultant is a licensed psychiatrist who collaborates closely with the BHCM and Treating Provider. They regularly review the caseload with the BHCM, providing expertise on all enrolled patients, especially those who are new, not improving, or need medication adjustments. The Psychiatric Consultant shares their recommendations with the Treating Provider and offers medication consultations as needed.


The patient is at the center of CoCM. They are an active member of the treatment team, working closely with their Treating Provider and BHCM to report their symptoms, set goals, track progress and ask questions to help them stay engaged in their treatment plan.

Benefits of the Collaborative Care Model


Treats patients in their health care home


Patients receive their treatment plan quickly, without the need for a referral

Improved access

CoCM decreases community wait lists for mental health services and reserves specialty care referrals for those who need it most


CoCM increases psychiatric support for your team, providing additional expertise for treatment plans

A good investment

CoCM has a return on investment of 6:1 and establishes billing codes to increase reimbursement for your clinic


CoCM builds a foundation within your practice to meet patients’ mental health needs long-term

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