General Overview

In 2005, the Florida Legislature authorized the implementation of the “Medicaid Drug Therapy Management Program for Behavioral Health (MDTMP),” a Program whose goal is to work collaboratively with prescribers in the Medicaid program to improve the quality and efficiency of the prescribing of mental health drugs, and to improve the health outcomes of Medicaid beneficiaries with a mental illness. From 2005 to June 2020, the Program was funded by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration. As of July 1, 2020, under different funding mechanisms, the Program continues its mission to optimize the evidence-based use of psychotherapeutic medications and provide support to clinicians treating patients with chronic psychiatric diagnoses regardless of insurance carriers. The MDTMP is part of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa.

On a regular basis the Program reviews its activities to make sure that we address issues that are current and relevant to the treatment of behavioral and comorbid physical health conditions.

Some of the many activities of the Program include:

  • Development and biannual updating of adults and children/adolescents psychotherapeutic medication guidelines
  • Participating in a telepsychiatry project to increase timely access and treatment of children with behavioral health conditions treated in pediatric primary care practices
  • Collaborating with Aunt Bertha, a national database of resources to create a free web-based search tool for behavioral and physical health services. Aunt Bertha also keeps a regularly updated list of community resources available throughout Florida including housing, food banks and utilities.
  • Identification of complex care indicators to identify unusual prescribing practices
  • Analyses of pharmacy claims for mental health medications
  • Peer to peer educational interventions with clinicians
  • Ongoing prescribing surveillance, follow-up and re-measurement
  • Conducted several project designed to promote integration of medical and mental healthcare
  • Implementation of a state-wide child/adolescent psychiatry access call line
  • Development of a registry to track the use of antipsychotics in children under the age of 6 years old
  • Project to promote the appropriate use of clozapine
  • Implementation of a clinical trial designed to assess the risks and benefits of switching patients with schizophrenia from two to one antipsychotic medication

With collaboration of Florida, national and international experts, and many stakeholders concerned about the care of vulnerable populations with behavioral health conditions, the Program developed and disseminated the Florida Best Practice Psychotherapeutic Medication Guidelines for Adults with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and Children with Severe Emotional Disturbances (SED). The Program guidelines are updated biannually to include the most recent scientific evidence regarding the pharmacological treatment of serious behavioral health conditions.

Starting in July 2018, the Program became one of the several hubs throughout the state to participate in a telepsychiatry project to achieve the aim of the Statewide Regional Behavioral Health Collaborative funded by the Office of Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan & Specialty Program. The overreaching goal of this collaborative is using telepsychiatry to increase the timely access, identification, assessment, treatment, and referral of children with behavioral health conditions treated in pediatric primary care practices.

The Program continues to host the Florida Behavioral Health Collaborative Pediatric Hotline (1-866-487-9507) to provide a wide range of services including psychotherapeutic medication consultations provided by a child/adolescent psychiatrist. The Pediatric Hotline is coordinated by a care coordinator/resource navigator who makes all necessary referrals and scheduling of appointments to psychiatrists psychosocial treatments and other consultations as required by the individual clinical presentations of each patient. Patient-focused telepsychiatry consultations are available to all providers regardless of insurance carrier caring for children/adolescents up to 21 years old. The hotline is a free resource and calls are answered on non-holiday weekdays between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.

As the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration funding came to an end, the Program underwent several changes to explore and form new partnerships, including a new name: The Florida Center for Behavioral Health Improvement and Solutions reflects these new partnerships. While the Program continues to participate in the telepsychiatry project and host the Florida Behavioral Health Collaborative Pediatric Hotline, we also plan to continue efforts to update and disseminate the psychotherapeutic medication guidelines to reach a national audience and provide continuing medical education.

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Aunt Bertha Resource Guide

USF/Aunt Bertha Web-Based Resource Guide for behavioral and physical health services and community resources including housing, food banks, and transportation.

USF/Aunt Bertha Instruction Guide PDF