TriHealth, a leading Cincinnati-based integrated healthcare delivery system, announced its plans to expand the integration of Behavioral Health services into pediatric and adult primary care locations. It will also introduce best-practice care models in other specialty areas, including obstetrics and oncology, throughout the system.
The three-year initiative will expand TriHealth’s cutting-edge integrated behavioral health consultant model of care, making it among the first health systems in the nation to provide pediatric and adult patients with this comprehensive approach. While behavioral health disorders occur in one out of four adults, they are often untreated or ineffectively treated. Today, mental illness ranks as the 11th major cause of death among all age groups and the second leading cause of death among people age 25 to 34. This tragic situation contributes to billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare utilization, and the avoidable loss of millions of lives worldwide each year.
bi3, a strategic partner of TriHealth and grantmaking initiative to transform health, will continue to fuel the integration of TriHealth’s Behavioral Health services with a $9 million grant. Sustainable long-term funding will come from TriHealth’s population health value-based revenue, such as shared savings and surpluses generated from percent of premium and total cost of care payment models, which allow TriHealth to use resources in ways that benefit most patients.
“The mental health system in this country is broken. The psychological and emotional effects of the pandemic brought to light the growing health crisis in our country that has too often been overlooked, undertreated, and underfunded,” said Dallas Auvil, MD, TriHealth’s System Chief for Behavioral Health Services. “This tragic situation contributes to untold suffering, billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare utilization, and the avoidable loss of millions of lives worldwide each year.”
The prevalence of mental health disorders among primary care patients is staggering. Studies show that one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of children hospitalized for mental health reasons increased by 163% nationally. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, behavioral health needs have significantly grown in all patient populations, and research indicates this trend will continue.
The model is designed to proactively identify patient needs by embedding comprehensive behavioral health assessment and treatment capabilities within the ambulatory setting. For less severe conditions, treatment is provided right in the office, often during the same visit when seeing their primary care provider. What makes this care model work is the collaboration between the physician or advanced practice practitioner, an embedded behavioral health consultant, and a psychiatrist, which allows providers to treat the behavioral health issues, and any underlying health issues, all in a multidisciplinary outpatient setting.
In addition to providing behavioral health services in primary care settings, TriHealth will also enhance support services, collect data to identify needed patient interventions, and leverage telehealth and other tools to increase access to care. It will also establish community partnerships to ease social determinants of health barriers for adult and pediatric patients.
The groundbreaking approach builds on an existing bi3-funded TriHealth program, which developed and piloted the integrated health consultant model. Health Affairs, a national journal of health policy thought and research, featured the pioneering comprehensive care model.
“To improve health outcomes, it’s critical we invest in behavioral and mental health services, especially as we look to provide our kids the help they so desperately need, ” Jill Miller, president and CEO of bi3, said. “As both a mother and health funder, I’ve seen the struggle both parents and adult patients have accessing behavioral healthcare. TriHealth is at the forefront in the nation in developing a comprehensive approach, resulting in a healthier community for all of us.”
- Cincinnati Business Courier: “Why behavioral health needs to be integrated into an overall population health strategy — and how one Cincinnati-area health system is doing it”
- Local 12: “Healthcare professionals push for more focus on mental health in the doctor’s office”
- Journal-News: “TriHealth to expand mental health care”
- Cincinnati Enquirer: “How hard is it for Cincinnati kids to get mental health help? 2,000 are waiting on 1 list”