Since 1978, Dr. Dennis Freeman has served as Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Health Systems, Inc., a community-based provider of integrated primary care and behavioral health services in Tennessee. Cherokee Health Systems is both a Community Mental Health Center and a Federally Qualified Health Center. The company has 700 employees and two-dozen service locations including both rural and urban sites. In 2007 the National Center for Primary Care presented Cherokee Health Systems, Inc., the Best Practices in 21st Century Primary Care Award.
Dr. Freeman was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Psychology Award by the Tennessee Psychological Association in 2006 and was recognized in 2010 by the Department of Psychology at the University of Tennessee with its inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dr. Freeman has been a member of the UnitedHealthcare FQHC National Advisory Board (FQHC Board) since 2013 stating that, “Solid payer-provider partnerships are critical to the delivery of efficient and effective healthcare. There are very few forums that grant the opportunity for payers and providers to have an open exchange of ideas and address mutual concerns. The Advisory Board gives the FQHCs and UnitedHealthcare the chance to learn from one another.”
Integrating behavioral health services into primary care has been the focus of Dr. Freeman’s career. He notes, “Access to behavioral services is inadequate across the country but most everyone sees a primary care provider every year. It makes sense to blend behavioral health clinicians into primary care teams. This strategy greatly improves access to behavioral healthcare for the general population. In addition, it provides a resource for the primary care provider in addressing all the behavioral aspects of good primary care.” Dr. Freeman adds, “It is exciting to work with UnitedHealthcare and other colleagues on the Advisory Board to discuss and develop sound strategies for value-based care and contracting.”