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3 Essential Partnerships for Collaborating Better Behavioral Health

According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, 34 million American adults have lived with comorbid mental and medical conditions within a 12-month period. That’s 17 percent of the adult population!

Comorbid diagnoses do not function independently within a patient. Rather, the dual-diagnoses exacerbates the prognosis of all diseases present—resulting in additional complications for both mental and physical health. Knowing this, meeting behavioral care needs cannot be achieved by siloed visits to any one provider. Instead, it needs to be a collaborative effort between various health providers.

Wondering where to start for your patients? Here are three essential partnerships for collaborating better behavioral health.

Emergency Departments

While some people think “emergency department” and imagine patients with broken legs or food poisoning, the emergency department (ED) has become a frequent destination for those struggling with behavioral health disorders. In fact, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 1 in 8 visits to the emergency department involve mental, behavioral, or substance use disorders. And these rates have been steadily increasing.

But partnerships between behavioral health clinics and emergency departments can help.

When a patient presents at the hospital with a psychiatric condition, the patient’s behavioral health clinic can be notified. Knowing the patient is in the hospital allows clinic case managers to work in tandem with hospital social workers and transition the patient to more appropriate care settings—ensuring he or she gets the care most needed. For example:

A patient presents in the emergency department with complaints of chest pain, headache, dizziness, and nausea. At first glance, the patient seems to be having a heart attack, but physicians are notified that the patient also has a history of frequent panic attacks. They notify the patient’s mental health provider and proceed to check the patient for other indicators that this could be a panic attack. After a thorough check, physicians diagnose this as a panic attack and commence treatment to calm the patient down. 

Without hospital and behavioral collaboration, the patient would have been discharged home, and the patient’s case manager would be unaware of the event. However, when providers collaborate, the case manager knows about the incident and can schedule a follow-up visit with the appropriate mental health provider—reducing the likelihood of readmission to the ED. 

Coordinating behavioral health care benefits emergency departments by reducing avoidable ED admissions and readmissions—and helps mental health providers deliver the best care for their patients.

Primary Care Physicians

According to a study published by Thomson Reuters and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 59 percent of all U.S. mental health drug prescriptions are written by family doctors—not psychiatrists.

Knowing this, transparency between primary care providers and behavioral health clinics is key. Patients who start out taking an antidepressant prescribed by their primary care doctor may try multiple medications before settling on the best prescription. But when circumstances change and the patient needs additional help, it’s important for the patient’s behavioral health provider to have a full understanding the patient history to figure out the best course of action moving forward.

Care collaboration platforms can connect behavioral health providers and primary care providers by showing important care guidelines and histories—giving both parties a more complete picture of patient needs for better patient outcomes.

MAT Facilities

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population struggles with a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, and of those patients, 50 percent simultaneously struggled with substance use disorder.

Treating behavioral and substance use disorders independently poses challenges in ensuring the patient is getting the care he or she needs for each disorder, as well as both disorders as a whole. Partnering behavioral care with Medication Assisted Treatment (or MAT) facilities can provide invaluable resources for patients through a holistic treatment approach.

Learn how Collective Medical helps connect patients to the best resources for their individual conditions at Mid-Valley Behavioral Care Network in Salem, Oregon.

Amanda Denison
Content Marketing Manager