For ACOs and Direct Contracting Medical Groups adopting value-based payment models, behavioral health is often overlooked. But your patients’ unmet behavioral health issues are a big cost driver for emergency care and inpatient admissions, and they compound risk factors in disease. They also influence your patients’ adherence to treatment plans. You may believe this is a problem you can’t resolve because behavioral health is beyond the boundaries of your participating network. Even so, you need to be aware of a significant emerging trend: integrating behavioral health in primary care.
The difference between physical medicine’s approach to disease versus behavioral health is striking. For major diseases causing death and morbidity, the health care industry focuses intensely on creating better screening tools and reaching more people, making early diagnoses, and perfecting treatments. We turn to risk factor prevention and vaccinations to stop incidence or progression of disease. For cancer care, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and COVID-19, our combined capacity to tackle the biggest health threats is profound when we believe that costs of delay and nontreatment are too high to ignore.