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Insights and Trends

Behavioral Health Integration: Addressing Community Demographics for Improved Patient Outcomes

Over the past several years, deaths associated with behavioral health illnesses have seen continued growth. Specifically, drug overdose fatalities saw a 29% increase from April 2020 to April 2021.1

People with behavioral health conditions also experience greater inequities compared to those who only have physical health conditions. For example, Americans with depression, bipolar disorder, or other serious mental illnesses die 15-30 years younger than those without mental illness.1

This leads to the question, “What impact can behavioral health integration have on patient and hospital outcomes?”

Demographics play a major role in determining what care is provided in what communities. Factors hospital’s should consider when identifying what service lines to integrate in their care continuum include:1

  • Race: While white middle-class women have a 20% higher likelihood of receiving a call back from a therapist, black working-class men are met with a 1% likelihood.
  • Sexual Orientation: LGBTQ+ members are 3X more likely to experience mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety and substance misuse compared to heterosexual individuals.
  • Age: 20% of adults 65+ have a higher likelihood of experiencing a substance use disorder compared to those ages 25+.
  • Location: Nearly 70% of local communities are shortages of mental health professionals.

These growing numbers highlight just how important it is to integrate behavioral health care into a hospital’s care continuum. It also sheds light on the financial opportunities once this critical service line is implemented.

Impact on Hospital Financial Performance

Lack of needed behavioral health beds can have significant implications for hospitals, such as overcrowded emergency departments, higher readmission rates, increased care cost, decreased patient satisfaction and, as stated above, a lower amount of demographic needs being met.

Building a successful behavioral health program from the ground up can be difficult while trying to maintain excellent patient care in core service areas. Being able to rely on a trusted third-party expert can help relieve the burden of building and running a specialized behavioral health hospital or unit. It can also provide a positive impact on patients across the care continuum who would otherwise have to transfer out of the system to receive this critical care.

Contact us today to discover how your patients and hospital can benefit from behavioral health integration.


References:

Duke-Mosier, S., & Sullivan, D. (2022). Inequities in behavioral health. Advisory Board. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.advisory.com/Topics/Health-Equity/2022/07/inequities-in-behavioral-health