Delivering behavioral health care population-wide
February 6, 2023
- Improving behavioral health through screening, assessment and quality care is an urgent need in many communities across the United States.
- One of the most compelling approaches to increasing access to behavioral health services is integrative care. Integrative care seeks to unite behavioral and physical health. Collaborative Care is one of the most effective models to achieve integrative care.
In 1948, The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized that health encompasses both behavioral and physical components, yet they are divided into distinct entities. The separation of behavioral health is a major factor behind the trends in stigma and issues with access to behavioral health care seen today.
According to Mental Health America, in 2020, nearly one in five adults experienced living with a behavioral health condition. The CDC reports that about half of Americans will experience a diagnosable behavioral health condition during their lifetime.
Despite the prevalence of behavioral health concerns, a staggering number of patients receive inadequate care, if any at all. Findings suggest that more than half of adults with a behavioral condition are not receiving treatment.
Improving behavioral health is a national priority
Certain populations are disproportionately affected by behavioral health concerns, such as women, young adults and people who identify as multi-racial. The shortage of behavioral health providers is another issue that creates barriers to access — especially in rural areas and in places where many people experience economic, cultural or language barriers to health care.
Behavioral health in the public sector
Healthy People 2030 (HP 2030) is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ public health initiative to improve health outcomes for all Americans over the next decade. HP 2030 identified behavioral health as a core objective because it ranks as a high-priority public health issue — one that can be addressed with evidence-based interventions.
This initiative targets increased screenings of children, adolescents and adults for behavioral health conditions such as depression in primary care settings. HP 2030 also identifies an important metric: the proportion of individuals that receive treatment for their conditions.
Strategies to improve behavioral health access
The behavioral health market is undergoing a metamorphosis to reduce patient barriers to receiving care. Models that reunite behavioral and physical health, such as Collaborative Care, are making such progress — improving access and patient outcomes.
Research supports adopting the Collaborative Care model. In 2016, CMS began reimbursing primary care for this service. Since then, commercial payers and Medicaid have followed suit.
Meeting patients where they are already accessing care
Up to 75% of primary care visits have a behavioral health component. Additionally, medical providers treat the vast majority of behavioral health concerns, especially in rural areas. Data also suggests that people are more comfortable approaching their primary care provider with their behavioral health concerns. Research agrees that addressing both aspects of health is more effective and reduces the cost of care.
The Collaborative Care impact
There are many benefits to Collaborative Care. The model aligns with goals to increase health equity, reduce behavioral health stigma and lower the cost of health care. Collaborative Care puts the focus back on improving the quality of life and overall health of patients. It allows providers to feel supported while providing comprehensive care.
So what does Collaborative Care look like to your practice?
The components of this model include:
Universal screenings with validated tools such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)
Warm referrals of patients to behavioral health teams as needed
Goal-directed, treat-to-target approach with at least a 50% reduction in symptoms
Evidence-based interventions based on patient needs through behavioral health clinicians
Reassessment of symptoms at regular intervals
Altering interventions as needed to continue progress toward goals
Registry-based care used to inform and direct population health strategies
In 2016, Concert Health was created to improve access to behavioral health care. Utilizing Collaborative Care, Concert delivers behavioral health services to primary care and embeds as part of the care team. The primary care avenue increases access while reducing the stigma associated with behavioral health. Having access to behavioral health care in a familiar setting makes the patient feel more comfortable seeking this type of care.
Adopting any new model can bring logistic and implementation challenges; however, partnering with a leading behavioral health medical group, like Concert Health serves as an “easy button” for providers integrating care.
Concert Health provides behavioral health services to primary care providers and organizations across the country. Our care is centered on Collaborative Care, an evidence-based model proven to improve behavioral health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, within primary care and women’s health settings.
We can do more together. Contact us to start the conversation.