A new Rutgers study, Role of Behavioral Health Conditions in Avoidable Hospital Use and Cost, focuses on the role of behavioral health (BH) conditions in potentially avoidable hospital use and cost. The study builds on a series of publications, funded by The Nicholson Foundation, which examined opportunities provided by the Medicaid ACO Demonstration Program to improve health and lower costs in low-income New Jersey communities. Study authors found
“Patients who are high users of hospital care and those with avoidable/preventable IP hospital use are disproportionately affected by BH conditions, and that BH conditions are associated with a substantial share of hospital costs.”
Further, they concluded that
“Improved integration of BH services with medical services among complex patients can lead to lower avoidable hospital utilization and cost savings.”
A news story mentioned the Federal initiative on behavioral health in primary care initiated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). That initiative is The Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health in Primary Care. Charlotte Mullican, AHRQ Senior Advisor for Mental Health Research and Contract Officer Representative (COR) for the Academy, stated that research increasingly shows that integration is cost effective. She further said there are still a number of barriers to implementation of this model, including payment structures, varied provider perspectives, and the need to change the perception of patients about what kind of care they should ask for from their primary care provider.
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