How behavioral healthcare can drive down the cost of chronic disease

Achieving the healthcare Triple Aim – improved health across patient populations, reduced per capita care costs and an enhanced patient experience – is a common goal among healthcare organizations. As a result, many ACOs, payers and providers are now evaluating ways to effectively address those chronic diseases that tend to consume the most resources and contribute the most to rising costs.

Yet even with a focus on comprehensive and accountable care, organizations too often overlook a key element in the successful treatment of chronic conditions: the integration of mental healthcare. The inclusion of behavioral health allows providers to tackle mental health issues that are proving to be key contributors to chronic disease occurrences and hospitalizations.

In fact, the need for more tightly integrated behavioral and clinical care is illustrated by a recent study that finds mental illness is widespread among the highest-cost, most frequently hospitalized Medicaid beneficiaries.[1] A similar report reveals roughly 49 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities have a psychiatric illness.[2] Based on these findings, ACOs are realizing the importance of treating behavioral healthcare concerns in patients with chronic diseases.

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