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Improve behavioral health: Together, we can

The 2019 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference that occurred in Nashville last week provides reason to pause. Its theme, “Celebrating 50 Years of WE”, gets to the very heart of what will bring about change – for behavioral health and beyond. Together, we can make a difference.

Beacon Health Options (Beacon) has stood behind the concept of “we” since the company’s inception. All system stakeholders have a role to play in the integration of care so people can receive the person-centered services that truly make a difference. For Beacon, it is our specialty behavioral health expertise, with its many system touchpoints, that provides critical spokes in the solution wheel. Clinical innovation and our commitment to ensuring access to quality care drives value – for our members, providers, clients and system-at-large partners.

Beacon’s participation at NatCon19 reflects the breadth and depth of that behavioral expertise.

Challenging the Status Quo: Peer Support in the 21st Century: What is a peer service? How is it different than traditional clinical services? This discussion, led by Dr. Lisa Kugler and Clarence Jordan, addressed these and other basic questions as well as the model’s sustainability. “The demand for peer support services continues to evolve with growing evidence of its effectiveness in improving patient outcomes and reducing health care cost,” said Mr. Jordan.

Increasing MAT Access and Capacity Through Project ECHO Telementoring Model: There are major barriers to accessing medication-assisted treatment, including a lack of trained, willing, confident providers. Amy Pearlman explained how Project ECHO enables providers to treat patients with OUD within their communities.

Using Administrative Data to Inform the Development and Intervention of a First Episode Psychosis Specialty Care Program: Outcomes from the Field: This approach uses Medicaid claims data to identify youth who are potentially experiencing first episode psychosis so they can be referred to appropriate treatment. Robert Plant and Chris Bory shared the methodology, outcomes and core clinical components that participants can apply to their own local systems of care.

Parity: What Comes Next?: Many states are employing various strategies to enforce the federal parity law. Brad Lerner participated in a panel discussion on the different issues facing parity implementation, highlighting payor progress and remaining challenges. “The parity panel had fantastic audience engagement, with questions focusing on a wide array of topics, such as how to best approach stakeholder engagement and how to conduct a technical comparative analysis,” Lerner commented.

Achieving Results: How to Reduce Emergency Room Visits: Use of the emergency room for children and adults experiencing behavioral health crises has been increasing, despite the ER’s inability to resolve their crises. As part of a panel exploring how to reduce ER visits for people in crisis, Sarah Arnquist described Beacon’s work in Washington state. “We’re focused on moving the system toward more prevention and early intervention,” Arnquist said. “In two years operating in Clark County, we have expanded adult and youth mobile crisis interventions.”

The Value of Collaboration: Health Systems and Community Behavioral Health: As health systems focus on population health, community behavioral health organizations must become critical partners. Inna Liu led a panel of hospital executives, payors and behavioral health leaders who discussed strategies that create successful, lasting partnerships.

Long-acting Medications for Schizophrenia: Even Your Payor Wants You to Use Them: Health plans need to think about care that works, as well as about the total cost of care. Sherrie Bieniek, MD, co-led a panel about the value of health plans’ recommendation that prescribers consider using long-acting medications (LAIs) because of their potential to prevent medication discontinuation, relapse and unnecessary emergency room and inpatient use. “The earlier LAIs are used in treatment the greater the chance for promoting resiliency and community tenure,” she noted.

Behavioral health care isn’t simple.  In fact, complexity is the reason for finding a solution that calls upon the collective “we” to develop solutions. Much has been achieved but even more needs to be done. To borrow words from NatCon19:

Together, WE will celebrate where we have been, and more importantly, where WE will go!

How do you contribute to the ‘we’? Feel free to brag about your successes in the comments!

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