Andrea Bennett

Jeffersontown, KY – A new issue brief from Kentucky Youth Advocates, Integrated Health Care Benefits Kentucky’s Children, examines the advantages of integrated health care as a way to improve the health of children in the state.

In Kentucky, too many children struggle with poor health or have special health care needs. Kentucky’s health care system has undergone many changes in recent years. As these changes continue to be implemented, it is important for the state to ensure that the comprehensive health needs of children are being met through improved access to high-quality care that encompasses physical, behavioral, and oral health. Efforts to improve the health of Kentucky’s children must address all the components of health and factors related to health such as income, geography, personal choices, and genetics.

“The recently announced Kentucky Health Now Initiative by Governor Beshear is a great start to help us tackle challenges with children’s health such as obesity and asthma,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.  “Improving the health of Kentucky’s children will require efforts where stakeholders and professionals from multiple sectors work together to address all aspects of a child’s health, including physical, behavioral, and oral health.”

The brief highlights the importance of integrated care, which involves prioritizing the patient, and coordinating health care across professionals and facilities. Goals of integrated care include the following:

  • Improving access to and continuity of care
  • Enhancing the quality of care and quality of life for patients
  • Boosting consumer satisfaction
  • Increasing efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Two aspects of integrated care are particularly important for children: comprehensive care and co-location of services. Comprehensive care means that a full range of services are offered to the child including preventive care, treatment, and connecting families to social support services if needed. Co-located services (i.e., primary care, oral health care, behavioral health, and social services offered at one site) are more convenient for families, increasing the likelihood that children will receive the care they need.

An integrated approach can increase patients’ access to care, help them play a more active role in the health care they receive, and help them stay committed to their treatment plan. It can also reduce the cost of health care by improving the effectiveness of the care administered, improve efficiency of health care providers, and increase preventive care.

“We’ve made a lot of strides in kids’ health in recent years such as reducing barriers to help more kids enroll in health insurance. In fact, our child coverage rates are at an all-time high. But we need to move beyond coverage and really think about how to address the full range of health needs of kids in our state. Integrated care is a concept that we as a state should continue to move towards,” said Brooks.

The brief, Integrated Health Care Benefits Kentucky’s Children, is available here. For more information or to schedule an interview please contact, Andrea Bennett at or 502-381-1176.