Integrated Behavioral Health Through Hybrid Care Model

Dr. Adam Tabriz

Integrated Behavioral Health Medicine Is A Double-Edged Sword For Medical Practices Unless They Use A Robust Hybrid System That Is Collaborative And Transparent

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Behavioral health is one of the leading challenges affecting the global healthcare system. So, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), healthcare leaders around the globe are more and more realizing the role of mental health in the sustainability of global development initiatives.

Despite eye-catching progress seen in a few developed countries, many individuals still lack benefiting from health equity. They thus are subject to human rights violations, prejudice, and stigma.

An estimated 1 in 5 Americans suffers from behavioral health disorders. Amongst the most prevalent forms of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, dementia, and eating disorders, depression is the leading cause of infirmity.

Suicide remains the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between 15 and 29.

It is worth noting that Behavioral health disorders in America impact over 40 million adults, and the COVID-19 pandemic's association with mental health has significantly affected the labor market negatively. Along with accelerating inflation, that has strained the healthcare market.

Based on a report published by Harris, affinity healthcare expenditures due to Behavioral health will grow at 5.4%, reaching $6.2 trillion by 2028. The report references its findings based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Deteriorating mental health situations is straining the psychology community, thus forcing healthcare leaders to find alternate solutions to address the emerging crisis.

Despite the COVID pandemic and enforcement of social distancing protocol, behavioral health specialists have embraced Telehealth. However, despite its clear benefit in mental health management, the utility of Telehealth and its efficacy require further evaluation.

Based on a report published by the American Psychological Association outlining some platform-based challenges that may affect reimbursement, patient comfort, and privacy.

Remote Tele-psychotherapy can be as effective as in-person Mental Health treatment, given the proper logistics.

Some leaders are advocating filling the behavioral health care gap with nurse practitioners. Others like Sue Birch, director of Washington State's Health Care Authority, have been pushing for transformation from encounter-based, volume-driven work to value-based work aimed primarily at cost savings rather than improving access to quality of care.

How About Integrating Behavioral Health Models into Physician Practice?

The integrated behavioral health model is an emerging concept that primarily underlines multidisciplinary teamwork and closer collaboration between clinicians and mental health professionals. The core mission of the latter solution is to create mental health equity for individuals, lower pressure on mental health professionals, and reduce the healthcare fiscal burden.

The integrated behavioral health model involves shared logistics between clinicians and the behavioral health team. That is by having one in immediate access to the other, be it virtually or in person.

Based on this article, an integrated behavioral health system necessitates a robust digital hybrid logistics infrastructure.

The design of the new logistics should offer a collaborative, transparent, and interactive system that allows all stakeholders, including the behavioral health team, to integrate their services in person or remotely.

The contemporary logistics enable everyone, including the behavioral health team, on the same physical floor or virtual platform to collaborate closely in real-time, complete an assessment, and offer patient guidance. That is a system we call the "Hybrid Care Model."

The hybrid system will also sustain supportive social services by making them available to aid patients and their families with crisis intervention, referral, and advocacy.

The action care plan, upon adequately coordinated multidisciplinary assessment, will follow patients from healthcare facilities to patients' homes. That is with Point of Care (POC) seamlessly shifting back and forth between in-person and virtual domains.

Hybrid logistics offers immediacy to behavioral health services by bringing social workers, clinical counselors, psychologists, and family therapists. That is vital to the timely patients' access to talk about their concerns and get the help they need.

Ensuring care immediacy and flexible POC status will sustain continuity of care, prevent behavioral health condition relapse, and reduce the financial hurdle in healthcare. It will also facilitate understanding the patient's needs and circumstances, creating a culture of open communication and transparency between the patients and the rest of the care team.

Integrated behavioral health using proper logistics also facilitates addressing health's social drivers of health and thus opening the road to health equity. It also reduces the stigma associated with scenarios when the patient must make a direct appointment with a behavioral health specialist.

Integrated Behavioral Health Is the New Trend, Yet Not Flawless

Stat poll conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) in September 2022 suggests that 30% of medical practices in the United States consider integrating behavioral health into their workflow. However, the feasibility of such a transition-place their intention under scrutiny.

There is overwhelming evidence for implementing an integrated behavioral health model. Without a proper reimbursement policy and robust hybrid healthcare delivery logistics, such a radical move will further increase the risk of physician administrative burden and burnout.

The Integrated Behavioral Health solution is a double-edged sword for the healthcare system. Meaning physicians are doomed if they do not cooperate with the behavioral health team and doomed if they do cooperate. That is without a robust digital platform, fair reimbursement system, and efficient workflow system.

Illumination publication initially publicized this piece on Medium!

References

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