How Emory Healthcare Built an Integrated Behavioral Health Program from the Ground Up

Bridging the Gap is an interview series featuring leading minds in healthcare innovation, and in the latest episode Dr. Brandon Kitay, Director of Behavioral Health Integration at Emory Healthcare, spoke with NeuroFlow CEO Chris Molaro. He shared how he helped Emory build its integrated care program from the ground up, and why he spent six months learning about the biggest problems facing the health system before developing the program. This discovery period allowed Dr. Kitay to develop a more targeted and effective integrated behavioral health care program for Emory patients.

To learn more about Dr. Kitay’s approach, listen and watch the full interview below and read on for top sound bites.

Emory Healthcare’s mission statement for integrated behavioral health: 

Dr. Kitay: Really, [our mission statement] is to improve access for both patients and providers–we can unpack that in a second–to mental health resources or behavioral health resources that are evidence-based and at the appropriate level of care for the patient. There is a lot to unpack there.

Another thing is basic resource allocation. Not every patient with a mental health issue needs to see a psychiatrist. Sometimes that’s pulling out the big guns to solve a pretty minor problem. If my expertise as a psychiatrist is not being allocated appropriately, I’m going to burn out, my caseload volume is going to get filled up, and, for a lot of reasons, I’m not incentivized appropriately to take on those more challenging cases independently. . . 

Patients don’t need that level of intensity to see a psychiatrist. Sometimes brief counseling is sufficient. But when a primary care doctor sees a patient with a screening for a high PHQ-9 in front of them, the gut reaction is, “Refer to psychiatry.” What that means at a large, very complex health system like Emory is those patients get lost to follow-up.

How technology and integrated care addresses the issue of access:

Dr. Kitay: When we talk about access, I’m talking not only about one-to-one solutions for patients. I’m talking about things like NeuroFlow, psychoeducation, self-directed therapy that patients might be able to engage in that is asynchronous from your traditional office visit. That’s what technology is really helpful for. And access is also about providing access for primary care providers to behavioral health expertise.  

Ellen Harvey is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at NeuroFlow. She has over nine years of experience writing about technology and innovation for business leaders. At NeuroFlow, she writes about prominent trends in behavioral health and illustrates how NeuroFlow's technology helps healthcare, payor, and government organizations improve the well-being of their constituents.

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