Behavioral health integration involves treating the whole person in order to improve health outcomes and patient experience without significantly increasing health care costs. Research has shown that integration effectively implemented can reduce the total cost of care. Hospitals and health systems are working hard to create one system of care with multiple entry points for patients with multiple medical issues and to integrate behavioral health services into every patient‘s experience when and where patients need them to effectively treat the whole patient — both their physical and behavioral health care needs.
This report from the AHA Center for Health Innovation shares learnings from several hospitals and health systems that are working to integrate behavioral health into all care settings and collaborate with their communities to improve health care delivery for better health outcomes. Their behavioral health integration journey covers specific strategies for inpatient operations, outpatient operations and community outreach.
Each organization can use this report and the behavioral health integration pathway to evaluate its organization in light of its goals for a more holistic approach to care. Shifting focus to overall health and bringing together behavioral and physical health services into a fully integrated health care system requires cultural change and administrative and financial investments over a long period of time.