Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Unexplored Opportunities in Reform

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Unexplored Opportunities in Reform

Article excerpt

In their analyses of national Healthcare reform, pundits typically look only at potential winners and losers, gains or losses. In doing so, they assume that those involved with healthcare will simply do more or less of the same things, post reform, that they did before.

But such analysis misses the mark. With or without passage of the national healthcare legislation currently under consideration on Capitol Hill, we must recognize that healthcare reform is inevitable and that, when it comes, our activities and functions will qualitatively change. Here are just a few examples of those changes.

Outreach to the newly insured. We already know that one-third of uninsured adults have mental or substance use conditions. As current or future reform efforts offer these persons access to personal health insurance, we face the question: Who will provide outreach to them? How will they access and receive behavioral healthcare? Clearly, local behavioral healthcare entities will have a significant role in this outreach process.

New individual and population interventions. Any meaningful health reform will emphasize more disease prevention and health promotion activities. The essence of prevention and promotion is behavioral change - the appropriate purview of mental health and substance use providers. This clearly implies char mental health and substance use providers should play a major role. At the level of the person. this might mean that local behavioral healthcare providers offer health promotion interventions similar to those currently being developed by businesses. However, at the population level, such intervention could lead to a yet-to-be-d eve! oped field of behavioral health. We can lead the way in developing behavioral change interventions for entire populations by evolving the role of popuiation health coaches to apply these interventions. Of course, consumer and family input will be essential to this pursuit.

Identifying social and physical determinants of health. New work suggests that developing local community collaborates can be an effective means of promoting better social and physical determinants of health. Widespread development and utilization of such collabo rarives can assure identification and adoption of better social and physical determinants of health, resulting in large-scale trends toward better health and less disease. The work already undertaken to create community' collaboratives in Texas, New Mexico, and elsewhere represents a platform from which additional coJfaboratives can be created. …

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