Integrating Physical Health

What Were the Costs to Behavioral Health Care Clinics?

Published in: General Hospital Psychiatry, Volume 51 (March-April 2018), Pages 41-45. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2017.12.006

Posted on RAND.org on February 13, 2018

by Kathryn Connor, Joshua Breslau, Molly T. Finnerty, Emily Leckman-Westin, Riti Pritam, Hao Yu

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Objective

To inform providers and policy-makers about the potential costs of providing physical health care in mental health clinics.

Methods

Cost data were collected through interviews with 22 behavioral health clinics participating in New York State Office of Mental Health's health monitoring and health physicals programs. The interview data was combined with financial reporting data provided to the state to identify per interaction costs for two levels of physical health services: health monitoring and health monitoring plus health physicals.

Results

This study gives detailed information on the costs of clinics' health integration programs, including per interaction costs related to direct service, charting and administration, and total care coordination. Average direct costs per client interaction were 3 times higher for health physicals than for health monitoring.

Conclusions

Costs of integrating physical care services are not trivial to mental health clinics, and may pose a barrier to widespread adoption. Provision of limited health monitoring services is less expensive for clinics, but generates proportionally large non-clinical costs than health physicals. The relative health impact of this more limited approach is an important area for future study. Also, shifting reimbursement to include health care coordination time may improve program sustainability.

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