Sunday, July 29, 2012

Testing Behavioral Health Model

Colorado Beacon Community’s partner Rocky Mountain Health Plans (RMHP) is taking part in a project to better integrate the delivery of behavioral and physical healthcare. Benjamin F. Miller PsyD, the project’s principal investigator notes that research shows that treating behavioral health and physical health separately results in poorer outcomes, and higher costs.

With funding from the Colorado Health Foundation, their partner RMHP will participate in the pilot with the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association and the University of Colorado at Denver’s Department of Family Medicine.

Using RMHP’s payment system as a laboratory, the partners will select up to six primary care practices from Grand Junction and surrounding Western Colorado communities to test a global payment model to financially sustain integrated behavioral healthcare. Practice recruitment will begin this summer with the project scheduled to be underway by spring 2013.

The primary care setting is the place to begin since more people are seen in primary care offices than in any other healthcare setting and more mental health issues are dealt with in primary care than in any other context.

Traditionally, primary care providers have not been encouraged to consult or collaborate with mental health providers because of the way the current system is designed. The system ignores the behavioral needs of medical patients and provides disincentives for consultation, collaboration, and coordination among clinicians.

According to Miller, “It is our goal to disrupt old business models in healthcare by showing more effective models that offer realistic, practical, on-the-ground solutions that primary care providers find valuable and rewarding to their patients.”

As Patrick Gordon, Program Director for the Colorado Beacon Consortium explains, “Unlike many other projects, we’re not trying to tweak the status quo. Since it’s impossible to fix the problem on a per-procedure, fee-for-service basis, we are starting with a fundamental redesign of the payment system. We will implement value-based non-fee-for-service payments to support the integration of behavioral and primary care and fundamentally change the structure of how behavioral health is handled.”