NeuroFlow recently hosted an expert panel to discuss how Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are uniquely positioned to implement integrated behavioral health programs and reap their benefits. The panelists discussed how other healthcare organizations can learn from the success some ACOs have achieved through integrating care. Panelists included Dayna Fondell, a public health nurse who is an advocate and consultant for integrated behavioral health programs, Dr. Jim Barr, Vice President of physician value-based programs and CMO of ACOs at Atlantic Health System, and finally Dr. Tom Zaubler, Chief Medical Officer at NeuroFlow.
Watch the full webinar session below and read on for top sound bites and takeaways.
The Mental Health Crisis Calls for Greater Innovation & Collaboration
“We know that outcomes are poor for people that have severe and persistent mental illness, and we know that so many people are not being served and that they are driving the majority of healthcare costs,”said Dayna Fondell during the webinar. “It’s estimated that 21% of the U.S. has a mental health condition, and we know that we are not appropriately treating these individuals. Just the scale and magnitude of the problem means that there is a lot of room for innovation.”
Dayna added that integrated care models, like collaborative care, can drastically improve these outcomes. She cited a study that found that ACOs who adopted the collaborative care model were also more likely to introduce a whole suite of evidenced-based protocols like having care managers, patient registries, and better coordination of patient co-management, all of which have significant downstream effects on the quality of care and clinical outcomes.
Tech-Enabled Integrated Care Improves Care Quality & More
Dr. Tom Zaubler explained that one of the reasons ACOs have been drawn to integrated care models is that they improve the care quality, which is one of the measures that ACOs are incentivized to improve through CMS. Dr. Zaubler added that there are a slew of benefits ACOs and other healthcare organizations can reap from leveraging technology to deliver integrated care at scale.
“When collaborative care is done well, in addition to the positive outcomes, provider satisfaction goes way up,” said Dr. Zaubler. “So quality of care improves, provider satisfaction improves, and equity improves, in terms of democratizing access to behavioral health care. You can whittle down that large percentage of patients that don’t get the behavioral health care they need. This is universalizing behavioral health care through technology.”
Top Criteria for Integrated Behavioral Health Solutions
Dr. Jim Barr said that before the pandemic, Atlantic Health System primarily relied on patient data analytics to understand and predict which patients would drive the greatest cost for the system. That changed after the pandemic, which created massive patient demand and rampant provider burnout. Instead of investing exclusively in data analytics, Atlantic Health System implemented a three part framework to inform their investment strategy for improved care quality:
“Number one, every bit of our investment and effort had to achieve an unburdening of our physician practice. Number two, it had to provide access to an extended primary care practice, which means integration, whether that is introducing a behavioral health care manager, a nutritionist, or a pain management professional to the care team, based on the patient’s needs. And finally, number three, the solution needed to improve our patient outcomes. We’re not treating numbers, we’re not treating diseases, we’re treating people, and that’s where integrated care allowed us to go.”