By 2030, it is estimated that nearly 14 million Americans 56 years or older will have a mental health or substance use disorder – an increase of 57 percent from 2012.1
This growing number has pushed behavioral health to the forefront of hospital strategic priorities.
Discover three of the ways strategic joint-venture or contract management partnership can help streamline your hospital’s behavioral health offering to meet the needs of the aging patient population.
1. Length of Stay
When a patient is admitted to a hospital with both a physical and behavioral health illness, the likelihood of a prolonged length of stay (LOS) increases.2 To address this issue, proactive integration of behavioral healthcare is critical. Doing so can also help reduce psychotropic medication errors and improve patient satisfaction.3
An example of positive LOS outcomes following the introduction of behavioral health best practices is highlighted in a recent adult psychiatric ward study. Steps taken to achieve these outcomes include:4
Involving existing hospital professionals in the process and offering additional training and education to strengthen their skillsets to identify patients in need of behavioral health services.
Implementing one-hour daily management meetings in which all patients’ primary needs were discussed and next steps were identified.
Utilizing an interdisciplinary team specifically trained in streamlining the care process and producing optimal behavioral health outcomes.
Integrating pre-discharge communication with patients to identify potential issues that would lead to readmission or a failed discharge.
With guidance from a focused behavioral health expert, hospitals can more effectively integrate these best practices and resources.
2. Behavioral Health Staffing
The psychiatrist workforce shortage is projected to rise through 2024. If no workforce changes are made and other trends continue, there will only be about 14 psychiatrists per 100,000 American adults with mental illness and substance use disorders.5However, the staffing shortage is not just limited to psychiatrists. Hospitals are facing shortages across the care continuum, hindering the delivery of effective post-acute care and emergency treatment within the emergency department (ED).
A partner with both local and national reach, in addition to having years of experience identifying behavioral health talent, can help a hospital hire and retain staff that will provide exceptional behavioral healthcare. This will help alleviate ED capacity strains while increasing patient satisfaction.
Once the behavioral healthcare team is in place, identifying when and how they will be engaged in the patient care journey is an important next step. For instance, schizophrenia patients who had regular, favorable interactions with their psychiatric nurses throughout their care journey demonstrated improved treatment adherence and punctual attendance at appointments.6 This ultimately helped improve the patient’s overall health status and lowered the risk of readmission.
3. Operational Efficiencies
A recent Milliman report found that 57 percent of patients considered “high-cost” also had a mental health or substance use disorder.7 To reduce unnecessary medical spending and address the needs of the high-cost patient population, hospitals are finding relief in a partner’s ability to improve efficiencies across the care continuum.
These areas include:
Emergency Department Relief - When the appropriate behavioral health resources are deployed across care settings, ED capacity strains can begin to be lifted. Getting patients out of the ED and to the right level of care improves outcomes, helps the ED focus on patients in need of emergency treatment and allows the entire hospital to run more efficiently.
Improved data access and sharing - A hospital’s ability to achieve better outcomes is impacted by its access to the latest behavioral health data and its ability to apply these findings at the local level.8 The right partner will have access to best-in-class resources to help obtain and apply learnings for improved patient outcomes.
Technology adoption - Increased technology utilization can enable providers to deliver preventive, personalized care solutions. Partnership can help hospitals gain access to the latest solutions without the heavy lift of developing from the ground up.
Partnership’s Role in Enhanced Adult Behavioral Healthcare
The aging patient population is expected to double in size by 2060.9 This will lead to an even larger number of individuals experiencing both mental and physical illnesses, requiring specialized care to effectively treat these co-occurring conditions.
Kindred Behavioral Health is a leader in treating patients with mental health and substance use disorders through partnerships that integrate best practices, resources and innovative solutions – helping to produce high-quality care, streamlined operations and enhanced efficiencies.
Sledge, W., Gueorguieva, R., Desan, P., Bozzo, J., Dorset, J., & Benjamin Lee, H. (2015). Multidisciplinary proactive psychiatric consultation service: Impact on length of stay for medical inpatients. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26022134/
Benjenk, I., & Chen, J. (2018, September). Effective mental health interventions to reduce hospital readmission rates: A systematic review. Journal of hospital management and health policy. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6167018/
Adlington, K., Brown, J., Ralph, L., Clarke, A., Bhoyroo, T., Henderson, M., Boora, F., Aurelio, M., & Fawzi, W. (2018, November 1). Better Care: Reducing length of stay and bed occupancy on an older Adult Psychiatric Ward. BMJ open quality. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231107/
Smithnaraseth, A., Seeherunwong, A., Panitrat, R., & Tipayamongkholgul, M. (2020, December 14). Hospital and patient factors influencing the health status among patients with schizophrenia, thirty days after hospital discharge: Multi-level analysis. BMC psychiatry. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7737347/
Workforce shortages, restricted patient access and shifting reimbursement are among the top challenges facing hospitals trying to meet the rapidly growing need for behavioral healthcare.1
Discover four key benefits of behavioral health partnership that can help optimize overall hospital performance.
1. Enhanced quality through specialized expertise
“Mental illness and substance use disorders – often referred to as behavioral health problems – are associated with high healthcare utilization and medical spending, especially when co-occurring with physical health problems,” notes a National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) study.²
To limit the use of unnecessary resources and medical spending, hospitals are focusing on improving access to quality behavioral health services and resources. The right partner will have access to exemplary resources, best practices and national trends that enable a hospital to better integrate behavioral health services while providing the highest level of treatment in a cost-effective manner.
2. Greater clinical and operational efficiency
Through the support of a partner, a hospital can begin to improve clinical and operational processes and efficiency in areas such as:
- Staff Optimization: A recent guide highlights that an experienced partner will have a team with both local and national reach, dedicated to recruiting top talent. This enables the program to effectively locate and hire highly-trained talent that matches the culture of the hospital and the specific needs of the community.
Once hired, employee support through training and educational pathways is crucial for continually enhancing an employee’s skillset and delivering high-quality outcomes. Doing so leads to greater employee satisfaction and retention.
- Enhanced Quality Outcomes Having a team of focused experts allows the hospital to leverage the latest trends, data and best practices – promoting efficiency and quality outcomes. Partnership enables hospital leadership to focus on their core acute services and helps relieve the burden of managing a behavioral health program.
3. Reduced patient and staff risk
By nature of the conditions treated, there is an inherent risk in treating behavioral health patients. There are a variety of new innovative solutions being used in behavioral health to reduce risk including:
- Electronic health records (EHR): An EHR system can help identify what additional services may be required for a patient to reach a full recovery. This includes uncovering previously unknown behavioral health disorders, allowing a patient to receive prompt treatment and avoid readmission.
- Wearable devices: Wearable devices can play a crucial role in lowering both patient and staff risk. These devices can alert staff when a patient has left their room – keeping patients safe and helping staff maintain hospital compliance. Utilizing wearable devices that keep care teams compliant with patient check-ups also lowers the risk of reportable offenses by a patient and helps them receive the highest quality of care at all times.
By partnering, a hospital can gain access to innovative solutions without the heavy lift of developing them from the ground up.
4. Greater ability to serve the community
Partnership with a behavioral health expert enables a hospital to meet the unique needs of the community it serves in a high-quality, cost-effective way. This is especially critical as 21 percent, or 52.9 million, U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.³
Research demonstrates that hospitals that incorporate behavioral health services into post-acute settings are more likely to generate positive outcomes for both behavioral and physical health. This implementation across settings helps reduce the use of other post-acute services, thus generating cost savings and improved patient satisfaction.³
Behavioral health partnership: achieve lasting results for your hospital
A strategic partnership relieves the burden of running an efficient behavioral health program while all maintaining the mission and values instilled in the hospital. It also helps enhance the current service offering by implementing critical behavioral health services to patients in need of both physical and mental health treatment.
Between pandemic surges, caregiver burnout and the rise of both medically complex and behavioral health patient populations, healthcare staffing has never been more challenging.
While hiring is often the focus to address shortages, it is only a stopgap. Development and implementation of operational and clinical strategies play a critical role in helping hospitals recruit and retain top talent. Moreover, hospitals are finding that contract management or a joint-venture partnership can give them greater access to resources and expertise to help their behavioral health program excel within the community it serves.
Learn five benefits of behavioral health program optimization that can help a hospital develop and retain top talent – benefiting patient outcomes, facility operations and employee satisfaction.
Strategic partnerships can help your hospital:
Gain access to national behavioral health resources focused on program optimization.
Having a team of experts focused on the latest behavioral health trends, quality data and best practices enables hospital leadership to focus on their core acute services. It also helps relieve the burden of implementing and running a behavioral health program.
The combination of both local and national resources allows the hospital to leverage the latest national data, while simultaneously applying the key takeaways at the local level. This ensures a care approach tailored to the community’s specific needs.
Identify and recruit specialized behavioral health resources.
The supply of behavioral health staff is not sufficient to meet the demand for mental health and substance use services in the United States, and this imbalance only worsens in smaller communities.1 An experienced partner will have a team with both local and national reach, dedicated to recruiting top talent. This enables the hospital to effectively locate and hire talent that matches the culture of the hospital and the specific needs of the community.
Having a fully-staffed behavioral health team also helps patients get to the right care setting, faster. This ultimately relieves overcrowding within the emergency department (ED) – leading to better outcomes, higher levels of patient satisfaction and lower burnout of ED providers.
Provide best-in-class employee training and continuing education.
Supplying the latest educational resources for employees to excel within their role can lead to better outcomes and improved employee satisfaction and retention. A dedicated behavioral health partner with established programs for continuing education and employee development can help the hospital stand out from other employers in the community.
The University of California - Berkeley states that the positive outcomes resulting from employee career and education investment include:2
Increased career satisfaction
Improved self-confidence and sense of responsibility
Ability to better attract top talent and retain valued employees
Greater learning opportunities for the entire organization
Live out its mission and values through a positive culture.
The mission and values of a hospital are the underlying DNA that brings the entire organization together. Hospital staff who align with a company’s mission and values are more likely to enjoy their work experience, resulting in higher productivity levels and engagement. They are also more likely to continue their employment within the organization long-term.
Research highlights that mission-driven workers are 54 percent more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30 percent more likely to grow into high performers than those who arrive at work with only their paycheck as the motivator.3
A reputation of excellence.
An experienced behavioral health partner brings operational and clinical excellence that can help the program be known throughout the region. The additional resources and best practices also allow for greater efficiency, leading to less burnout and more flexibility.
Reducing burnout among employees is especially critical -- the average bedside Registered Nurse (RN) turnover in 2020 rose to an all-time high of 18.6 percent. This jump also represented the largest annual increase in seven years, according to the Advisory Board.4 These statistics don’t just pertain to RNs.
A partner with access to resources to aid in an employee’s professional growth and personal development can help a health system be viewed as an employer of choice within their community.
Benefit of partnership for behavioral health staffing success
Employee engagement and satisfaction is critical to overall program performance and a hospital’s ability to meet the needs of the community. Through a strategic partnership, hospitals can help optimize their overall operations – aiding in superior outcomes and improved employee satisfaction and retention.
To learn how Kindred helps contract management and joint-venture partners optimize their programs through focused employee engagement expertise, visit KindredBehavioralHealth.com.
America’s healthcare system is experiencing a significant need for high-quality behavioral health services.
Research suggests that roughly 20% of the U.S. population may have behavioral health disorders, yet nearly 60% have unmet needs, which has a strong community-wide impact.1 This demand – particularly the nation’s rapidly-growing aging population – is not being adequately met.
This guide outlines:
The unmet behavioral health needs
How the successful integration of behavioral health can meaningfully reduce medical expenditures and improve care delivery
How partnership can create new efficiencies in management and administrative functions
Unmet Behavioral Health Needs
Behavioral health includes mental illness as well as substance abuse disorders. Individuals requiring behavioral health solutions may suffer from either – or both – conditions. According to the American Hospital Association, “unmet behavioral health care needs among adults have increased demands on hospitals and health systems across the continuum of care.”2
Medical costs for treating patients with chronic medical issues along with behavioral health conditions are two to three times higher than for patients who don’t have comorbid mental health or substance abuse disorders.3 These comorbidities complicate care and negatively impact outcomes which further compounds costs to the system.
Additionally, the COVID pandemic is putting new strains on individuals with mental health needs and has led to increased drug and alcohol abuse. Similar to the global financial crisis of 2007, it is expected that the nation will see higher rates of depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug use. The fear of the virus itself, prolonged social isolation, unemployment and collective grief compound the impact that the virus will have on behavioral health.4
All of these complicating factors have led payers to seek new ways to improve overall health – behavioral and physical – of members or beneficiaries to reduce expenditures.
A Strategy to Reduce Total Health Expenditures
The optimization of an existing behavioral health unit and/or addition of a new behavioral health service line has the potential to significantly cut costs. According to a recent Milliman Report, effective integration of behavioral healthcare with medical care can create projected annual savings of 9% to 17% when considering Medicare, commercial insurance and Medicaid enrollees.5
Benefits of Partnerships in Care Delivery
In order to appropriately meet the current – and future – behavioral health needs of their patient populations, hospitals and health systems need a quality partner that can not only expand patient access, but also effectively and efficiently manage a behavioral health program.
Joint-venture relationships or contract management of behavioral health operations can address many of the challenges within the healthcare system by creating the best of all worlds. A recent study confirmed the benefits of joint ventures and partnerships, including “helping businesses grow faster, increasing productivity, and generating greater profits, both parties sharing the risks and costs, accessing new markets and distribution networks.”6 Some other common advantages of strong partnerships include:
- Quality Outcomes: Strong partners with a reputation for, and demonstrated success in, clinical excellence will drive high-quality outcomes for behavioral health patient populations and may help hospitals optimize value-based purchasing program performance.7
- Expanded or Stronger Service Offerings: A partnership can not only strengthen and expand existing services, but also provide new offerings, such as inpatient behavioral health services, that are not currently available. This increased access enables more patients to receive treatment in an optimal care setting while reducing stress on emergency departments.
- Operational Efficiency: By having a partner fully dedicated to the behavioral health service line, the administrative burden is relieved and greater efficiencies are created.9
Kindred Behavioral Health (KBH) helps expand access to behavioral health services in local communities nationwide. KBH partners with hospitals and health systems to leverage expert medical, mental health, substance abuse and operational skills to improve clinical and behavioral health outcomes while lowering long-term patient costs.
As a division of Kindred Healthcare, KBH capitalizes on the company’s core competency as a partner who can effectively manage specialty programs for unique patient populations. KBH effectively leverages this operational integrity and established infrastructure to enable rapid expansion of behavioral health services.
Kindred Behavioral Health specializes in compassionate behavioral health services, including crisis stabilization for acute mental health and substance use disorders; detoxification from alcohol, opiates, cocaine and other drugs; suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder; and many other behavioral health illnesses.
How Kindred Can Help
Discover the benefits of partnering with Kindred Behavioral Health to expand your behavioral health services. For more information visit KindredBehavioralHealth.com.
In order to treat the 47.6 million individuals experiencing mental illness each year, health systems must first identify one of the key factors contributing to this growing issue – location.1 Rural and urban communities experience unique challenges that often create substantial obstacles for health systems to provide, and community members to receive, proper behavioral health treatment.
Read this guide to discover the unique behavioral health challenges and opportunities in rural and urban communities and how health systems can work to expand access to these vital services.
Behavioral Health Challenges Within Rural Communities
Approximately one-fifth of the U.S. population lives in rural communities, and about one-fifth of those living in rural communities, or 6.5 million individuals, have a mental illness.2
Further, it is estimated that as many as 65% of rural counties do not have psychiatrists, and more than 60% of rural Americans live in designated mental health provider shortage areas.2 Between 2010 and 2019, rural hospitals faced amplified risks of closure and will continue to experience this unless specific issues are addressed.3
Additional obstacles restricting rural communities from obtaining proper behavioral health treatment include:
Socioeconomic factors such as higher rates of unemployment and individuals living below the poverty line.
Lack of public acceptance due to the negative stigma surrounding behavioral health treatment.
Delayed public understanding due to lower education rates and restricted access to behavioral health resources limiting a person’s ability to recognize signs of mental illness and understand their care options.4
Although rural communities are faced with deeply rooted challenges, opportunities to combat these obstacles are available.
Steps to Improve Rural Access
Years of re-education, along with drastic spikes brought on by the pandemic, have led to a renewed interest in efforts to strengthen behavioral health integration among rural providers.
Tools that have positively impacted behavioral healthcare in rural communities, include:4
1. Implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs) to support clinical integration and communication;
2. Continued integration of educational resources and programs around behavioral health treatment;
3. Expanded use of technology to provide psychiatric support among other treatment options; and
4. Aid from an experienced partner dedicated to providing high-quality behavioral healthcare to benefit a community’s specific needs.
Through these tools, health systems can help ensure this vital form of care is easily accessible no matter one’s location.
Similar to rural community challenges, the urban demographic has its own hurdles to overcome in order to address the issue of behavioral health access.
Urban Community Obstacles
Today, more than 50% of the global population is living in cities, and by 2050 this rate is expected to increase to nearly 70%.5 As more individuals migrate to urban communities, the risk of developing a mental or behavioral health illness rises.
Additionally, whereas rural communities experience physical distance as an obstacle when seeking behavioral health treatment, urban communities run the risk of over-population. This leads to crowded emergency rooms (ERs) and mental health treatment centers – impeding an individual’s ability to receive high-quality services.
Although urban areas maintain a reputation of greater access to services and resources, disadvantaged individuals still struggle to obtain care due to financial and transportation limitations and the disproportionate availability of resources. However, there is a solution.
Urban Area Opportunities
By utilizing existing behavioral health services and elevating them to help ensure they are easily accessible to every individual in every neighborhood, health systems can address the challenges within urban landscapes.
Steps to improve access and education for behavioral healthcare include:
Understanding neighborhood demographics that could impact access to critical behavioral healthcare.
Providing quality resources through staff training and education around behavioral health, in addition to hiring qualified psychologists and therapists.
Behavioral health education through the integration of behavioral health programming into a primary care setting.
Understanding the unique obstacles presented in both community settings allows health systems to identify proven strategies to meet the opportunity. However, many health systems today struggle to successfully integrate this service line independently – leading many to outsource to a trusted partner.
Advantages of Behavioral Health Partnership for Rural and Urban Community Success
Experts in the behavioral health space understand the specific challenges hindering accessibility and are well-equipped to handle the obstacles through a flexible strategy designed to address the unique needs of the community at hand.
Kindred Behavioral Health, a service line of Kindred Healthcare, is a leader in treating patients with mental health and substance use disorders through partnerships that integrate the latest innovative solutions – producing quality care and superior outcomes. Visit KindredBehavioralHealth.com for more information.
Across the nation, communities are experiencing drastic spikes in a variety of behavioral health issues, including anxiety and depression, as people continue to navigate the complexities and stressors brought on by the pandemic.
These spikes are extensions of an ongoing crisis in behavioral health globally, and are not expected to decrease once COVID-19 subsides.1
More than 190 million Americans, or 58% of the population, have at least one medical comorbidity, while more than 30 million have three or more. Further, it is expected that people living with multiple comorbidities will more than double by 2050.2 These statistics highlight the growing need for behavioral health program integration into a hospital’s continuum of care, as many of the patients currently being treated are left undiagnosed.
Read this guide to learn about the issues leading to an influx of behavioral health patients and the three key areas hospitals are addressing to efficiently and effectively meet the growing population.
The Current Strain on Health Systems
One in five U.S. adults, or 47.6 million people, experience mental illness each year.3 As of 2017, at least 300 million people across the world were struggling with depression, 284 million with anxiety and more than 178 million with alcohol or drug addiction.1 As these numbers rise year over year, hospitals and health systems continue to be the safety net for behavioral healthcare – especially when community-based services are inadequately resourced.
To efficiently address these issues, health systems are increasing access to this vital treatment through community partnerships, integration of physical and behavioral healthcare in primary care settings, and reexamining the role of emergency departments (EDs) in an effort to alleviate current strains on staff and facility operations as well as reduce care costs.
In order to meet the growing needs of the behavioral health population, health systems must first address:
Research surrounding behavioral health is still emerging, so it can become difficult for hospitals to locate proper education and training for staff members that will help them effectively treat behavioral health disorders. This issue can hinder a hospital’s ability to recommend the most beneficial form of treatment, as they are often unclear about the actions needed to address behavioral health.
Compounding this problem is a workforce without enough psychiatrists, counselors and other clinical staff to fully meet the increasing demand for these services. Employing highly-trained and educated behavioral health experts, in addition to a dedicated behavioral health department, will help address the growing patient population.
Once workforce development concerns are addressed, it opens the door to a more accessible form of care.
Enhanced Patient Access to Behavioral Health Services
In addition to the lack of behavioral health workforce available to serve this growing population, the lack of accessibility to these programs and services continues to take a toll on communities across the country.
In these shortage areas, the ED is utilized as a patient’s primary form of behavioral healthcare, forcing many patients to wait for hours or even days to access an appropriate inpatient psychiatric bed. Research has found that approximately one in eight ED visits involve behavioral health conditions - increasing more than 44% between 2006 and 2017, with suicidal thoughts growing 415%.4,5
This has led many providers to examine the specific qualities that could enable their facilities to make these instrumental improvements to their overall performance and outcomes.
There is one factor that continues to produce successful results for both a hospital and the community it serves: partnership.
Optimize Your Behavioral Health Services Through Partnership
In the past, healthcare consumers typically interacted with the health system only when they were sick or injured; however, a recent Deloitte article has predicted that more health spend will be devoted to sustaining well-being and preventing illness by 2040, while less will be tied to assessing conditions and treating illness.6
Optimizing a hospital to provide this more comprehensive form of care can present a multitude of challenges if not properly addressed and handled by an industry expert and trusted partner.
Benefits of Partnership with Kindred Behavioral Health
While the need is great, running a successful behavioral health program is complex and requires specialized expertise that differs from the rest of a hospital’s core competencies. Having a partner with focused behavioral health expertise can benefit hospitals by alleviating the burden of implementing and optimizing a successful behavioral health program.
Visit KindredBehavioralHealth.com to discover how Kindred Behavioral Health can help prepare your hospital for the growing patient population and how partnership with a behavioral health expert can offer superior long-term benefits.