Value Based Care in Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health Therapist

We know value-based care is coming for behavioral health, but shouldn’t it be here already? I am not talking about how mental health providers are reimbursed, but rather why they are not included in the value-based contracts currently in place for Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), Medicare Shared Savings Models, or similar initiatives. How can you effect better outcomes while not accounting for the effects of anxiety and depression? Many more ACOs are recognizing this duality every day, and for the better.

In a recent letter to constituents, Monica Oss, CEO of Open Minds, shared results of a survey specifically geared towards value-based care in behavioral health. At the end, she identified 3 key steps necessary to prepare for such payment models:
1. More and better data management and reporting for managing VBR contracts
2. A technology infrastructure that supports VBR
3. Management talent with the expertise to use that data to manage care
The key takeaway of this is information without knowledge on how to use it is just as useless as knowledge without information. ACOs may have Business Intelligence platforms, but do they have the knowledge to track the social determinants of health? Both are needed for success.
Will their be payor-specific value-based care contracts that are exclusive to mental health or substance abuse? The trend over the last 5 years says yes, and many private behavioral health organizations are investing in Data Management-as-a-Service in order to get and trend the information necessary. When such contracts are available, they will be well prepared to capitalize.

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