The Dire Need for Integrated Behavioral Health in Chronic Care Management

Why we can’t wait any longer to deliver the holistic care that individuals need and deserve

As individuals with a chronic illness develop major behavioral health disorders, it is of the utmost importance for healthcare organizations to develop efficient and effective treatment or care management plans with a holistic focus. According to the CDC, over half of Americans live with a chronic illness and of that population one-third also live with an identified behavioral health condition. Despite the millions of people suffering from co-occurring conditions, integrated care is not widely available.

As shown in the infographic below, depression is a common co-occuring behavioral health disorder seen in individuals who are already burdened with life-altering chronic diseases. Facing a chronic illness or a behavioral health disorder on its own can be debilitating and costly, and the all-too-common combination of the two places a strain on both individuals and the health care system at large. 

High Costs Hamper Chronic Care Management & Behavioral Health

The CDC reports that almost 90% of the $4.1 trillion spent on health care expenditures in the U.S. is used to treat those who have chronic diseases and mental health conditions. One study found that those suffering from chronic diseases with co-occurring behavioral health disorders are two to three times more costly to the healthcare system than individuals who solely require treatment for a chronic disease. 

This pressing issue has only worsened since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has contributed to a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide, as well as a 9.7% increase in health care spending nationally.

Unified Behavioral Health and Chronic Care Management Improves Outcomes, Reduces Costs

Consequently, the need for integrated care has never been greater; this innovative approach must be adopted to evolve and sustain our nation’s healthcare system and the individuals that it serves.   

Fortunately, health care providers and insurance plans that integrate personalized, measurement-based care into chronic care management efforts and behavioral health programs are reporting positive outcomes while simultaneously reducing costs. 

Improved Outcomes

NeuroFlow users have seen significant holistic improvements after utilizing our behavioral health content, monitoring, and engagement platform. Organizations who incorporate behavioral health more proactively see on average 40% of individuals achieve depression response (reduction of depression symptoms by 50% or more) and 19% of individuals achieve depression remission (reduction of PHQ score to <5) within four to eight months. NeuroFlow provides continuous, self-guided behavioral health support, improving individuals’ mental health while making a positive impact on physical health.

In another use case, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey created an Integrated System of Care to more effectively treat its patients with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Behavioral health providers led the effort and focused on addressing physical health, mental health, and social determinants of health (SDOH). The results after three months were significant. The health system was able to reduce tobacco as well as alcohol and drug use 61% and 52%, respectively, among patients enrolled in the program. The integrated care approach reduced mental health symptoms 47% and improved quality of life 25%.

Reduced Costs

Integrated care is both proactive and efficient care, preventing serious and costly health issues and freeing up health care system resources. Integrated care, specifically the collaborative care model, saves $3,300 per patient when implemented. If providers and plans delivered integrated care nationwide, it’s estimated that the annual savings would range between $38 and $68 billion. One NeuroFlow customer, Pain and Spine Specialists, implemented collaborative care and saved $264k in the first year alone. 

Because of these efficiencies, both in terms of outcomes and cost reduction, Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures, which are used by over 90% of America’s health plans to measure care performance, have placed a greater emphasis on integrating physical and behavioral health. Increasingly, integrated care will be the standard health organizations are held to, especially when managing high risk populations facing chronic conditions.

Once you have made the case for integrated care, the next hurdle an organization must overcome is implementation. We’ve put together several best practices that will streamline behavioral health integration and ensure its sustainability within your organization. Learn more about behavioral health integration best practices here.


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