Care Transformation Center Blog

Your first step in addressing behavioral health needs

Cabell Jonas and Megan Clark

You have an opportunity to screen and connect patients to ongoing behavioral health resources at every step in the care delivery process.

For population health managers, one of the most important places to focus on is integrating behavioral health at primary care. If you invest in identifying this patient need early on, you can dramatically improve quality outcomes for patients and total cost of care for a population.

Root behavioral health management in primary care

We’ve seen one program that’s had great results with behavioral health management in primary care, even among complex subpopulations.

The Improving Mood—Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment (IMPACT) program uses a team, including a care manager and consulting psychiatrist, to support the primary care physician in detecting and treating depression. This early detection and intervention pays off by increasing the number of depression-free days for patients while reducing both inpatient mental health demand and inpatient medical care costs.

To view the four key components of the program, including how physicians continuously track improvement, read our research briefing, Proactive Behavioral Health Management.

Align care model and reimbursement for behavioral health care delivery

The Depression Improvement Across Minnesota Offering a New Direction (DIAMOND) program assembled major payers statewide, including Medicaid, to develop new incentives for screening and treating behavioral health.

The collaboration created a monthly bundled payment that covered the cost of services, including the PCP consult and care manager time. Not only are there good remission rates, patients' total cost of care decreased by over $3,000 in four years.

Offer accessible treatment and specialist support

As the ambulatory network takes a more prominent role in behavioral health care, PCPs need the care team to offer additional support for behavioral health care management. 

For example, Denver Health offers telephonic support to patients with diagnosed or suspected behavioral health needs. Patients complete six counseling sessions over the phone and are given a detailed plan for self-management and relapse prevention to promote ongoing health. Records are shared with the PCP to promote care continuity.

To view the full case study, read our research briefing, Proactive Behavioral Health Management.

Focus primary care on primary patient need

For the highest-acuity patients, we need a more robust primary care foundation.

Molina Healthcare redesigned the medical home, putting behavioral health services at the core for its highest acuity patients. Other physicians consult for physical health care as needed. As a result, patients had decreased inpatient admissions and ED visits, as well as 5% less claims than those treated in conventional practices.

More case studies on integrating behavioral health

Elevate Perinatal Behavioral Health Care Quality with a Tailored Inpatient Program
An interview with Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD , MPH, psychiatrist and director of the University of North Carolina Perinatal Psychiatry Program, the first perinatal psychiatry inpatient unit in the United States.

PACT Program for Severe Mental Health Conditions
Learn more about the Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PAC T), one of the most successful treatment programs for mental health patients.

Reducing Inappropriate ED Use for Pediatric Behavioral Health
Review two recommendations for hospitals and health systems seeking to better manage pediatric behavioral health volumes.

Odds are, you aren't meeting patients' behavioral health needs

Find out how you can be more proactive about identifying mental health patients and getting them the care they need.

Watch the video