The Big Haboob: 6 Opportunities In Today’s Behavioral Healthcare Turbulence

By Tom Schramski, PhD, CMAA, Glenn Lippman, MD, DFAPA, and Nancy Newberry, CMAA

Volume 2 Issue 3, February 3, 2015

unnamedA haboob is an Americanized term for an intense dust storm with an atmospheric gravity current.  They occur in arid regions around the world and the sediment they carry can bring man and machine to a halt.  For many, the haboob metaphor is relevant to the new behavioral healthcare marketplace – dramatic change and resulting anxiety that can obscure possibilities.

There are many real challenges of a fiscal and regulatory nature that you can read about in today’s publications.  Yet, as always, there are many opportunities for those who are patient in the storm and willing to consider a new look at the landscape.

True Integration

As health homes and other new models of service expand, the concept of “integrated behavioral healthcare” will increasingly become “integrated healthcare.”  This not only signals a move away from “carve outs” and other siloed approaches to more comprehensive models that go beyond simple co-location of service.  True integration will reward those who are agile and creative in bringing services to the customer.

The Evidence Please

As the new rage of value-based contracting grows, so will the demand for precision in treatment, which favors evidence-based practices.  Healthcare entrepreneurs will be incentivized for making sure their clinicians are well-trained (can they differentiate Major Depression from Bipolar Depression?) and also well-rounded in good business practices that address mission and the bottom line.

The New Reach of Pharmacology

Pharmacology has become an increasingly sophisticated science moving beyond the basic behavioral prescription approaches of the recent past.  One of the strongest competitive advantages that a clinic or treatment program can have is a skilled psychiatric staff that can prescribe with sophistication, especially when dual diagnosis (behavioral health/substance abuse) is apparent.

Know Your Data

Useful population health data is increasingly driving the reimbursement approach with many service providers simply trying to make their EHR software function properly.  To be successful, a provider needs to know their population dynamics, where they are focused in their approach, and the impact of their interventions.  Funders and other customers will soon require this capability.

Habilitation→Rehabilitation

As the evidence is clear, stability in housing, work, lifestyle, and relationships is often the foundation for rehabilitation in integrated health treatment.  Successful providers are incorporating these habilitation strategies because they result in improved outcomes, including reduced hospital readmissions.

Expanding the Person-Centered Focus

The Centers of Medicare + Medicaid Services (CMS) has mandated that funded services embrace a person-centered approach that maximizes individual/family choice and diverse service accessibility.  This has been a strong philosophical movement in the intellectual/developmental disability (I/DD) community for some time and will have a bigger impact in behavioral healthcare services, contracting, and marketing.

It doesn’t take lengthy study to see what’s happening – the behavioral health world is moving rapidly toward a more robust view of health and wellness that is stretching traditional treatment limitations, while making services and products more relevant to our customer needs.  As a provider organization, you would be wise to consider these trends and integrate them in your plans for the future.