Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Your Iphone Is Obsolete and So Is Integration as We Know It

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Your Iphone Is Obsolete and So Is Integration as We Know It

Article excerpt

A decade ago, the iPhone was just a glimmer in JL Jl. a designer's eye, and integration was a transformative concept in healthcare. The idea that we could improve patients' health and extend their lives by addressing both their physical and behavioral health needs was unfamiliar to many-even revolutionary.

Today, we still have a long way to go in bringing integrated care to every community in America. And even those providers who were in the vanguard must now innovate to survive.

1. We're not playing solitaire any more.

For too long, behavioral health paid for with public dollars was carved out of the rest of the healthcare ecosystem. No one competed for our patients because there were few dollars available to serve this complex, vulnerable population. Today, competition driven by parity and payment reform has brought new financial resources to bear on behavioral health-and with them, new competitors.

Independent physician practice groups are interested in our customers. Hospital systems are building out community behavioral health and primary care satellites. Managed care organizations are becoming direct service providers. Private equity firms and venture capitalists are evaluating our customer base for their potential return on investment. To survive in this world, behavioral health organizations need to offer an integrated care experience that beats the competition.

2. Customer convenience is king.

Integrated care is no longer simply about embedding basic primary care services in behavioral health (or vice versa), and providing referral slips for all the rest. Integrated care is about making your organization into a one-stop shop for all your customers' needs-and making them feel like valued and respected partners while you're at it.

That means integrated care organizations of the future must invest in a multidisciplinary workforce, from primary and specialty care physicians to social workers, case managers, and wellness coaches-all of whom are experts in health behavior change and building relationships through care that extends beyond clinic walls, into people's lives. This integration of staff roles across practice settings isn't just a building block of customer convenience; it's a huge opportunity for early intervention in the chronic mental and physical illnesses that take such a toll on our nation's health and finances. …

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