Integration of Medical and Behavioral Health

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It is no secret that behavioral health and physical health conditions often go hand-in-hand, yet we historically have organized our healthcare services to deal with one or the other. Thorough coordination of care between the two is rare.

Did you know?

People suffering from asthma are nearly two and a half times more likely to screen positive for depression those without the condition. As another example, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to experience major depression in their lifetime. There is loads of evidence showing how medical issues often lead to mental and substance use disorders, and vice versa.

Not surprisingly, chronically ill patients with an associated behavioral health condition have healthcare costs that are 50-175% higher than similarly ill patients without the behavioral health condition.

This is not good.

This is not good for the patients, who are not receiving the coordinated care they require in order to be well. This is not good for the healthcare system, since it contributes to runaway costs and ineffective care. Statistics show that patients who are treated by a behavioral health provider actually end up with a lower overall cost of care.

What’s the takeaway?

As healthcare planners and programmers, we need to explore how we can provide settings for stronger integration of care across the behavioral/medical spectrum. With the new emphasis on value-based care, this should not be a difficult sell to organizations, providers, payers, or patients.

1 Comment

  1. Randy Cole /

    Jennifer Kovacs Silvis posted today that Kaiser Permanente will increase the number of its mental health therapists by nearly half in California in response to a national shortfall in mental health treatment providers.

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