09:41 AM

Horizon Model Makes Behavioral Health the "Quarterback" in Chronic Care Management

American Journal of Managed CareStakeholders from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey discuss new ways to address management gaps for chronic behavioral health conditions, including a new integrated care model that puts community behavioral health providers in charge of overall care.

Behavioral health and substance abuse management have been challenged for decades by lack of investment and fragmented care systems. Despite the cost- and health-related burden caused by behavioral health issues, physical and mental health services continue to be siloed.

By contrast, evidence shows that integrating behavioral health into primary care creates marked improvement of clinical outcomes and cost savings. However, stakeholders from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (BCBSNJ) note there are barriers to integration, such as inadequate training on how to manage mental health disorders. Uncertainty about confidentiality standards and privacy laws can make it hard to relay information between behavioral health and primary care.

"At the highest level, the lack of recognition and accounting for the profound impact of behavioral health on individuals’ physical health has led to a deprioritization of behavioral health coordination in primary physical health settings. Some of this extends from the idea that behavioral health costs only represent about 6% to 7% of total medical expenses while overlooking the fact that underlying behavioral health issues contribute to a significant amount of the total health care spend of the member,” said Nickolas Carros, DSW, LCSW, senior director, Clinical Behavioral Health Services, Horizon BCBSNJ.

Read more at AJMC.