Behavioral Health

Helping Moms and Kids

Maternal depression screening is the way to go.

Health care delivery is generally complicated, but it doesn’t always have to be. Change can occur through a simple step. Take the case of maternal depression. It is undisputed that depression is a highly treatable medical condition, especially if identified and treated early.

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Solving the Riddle of Schizophrenia, Several Pieces at a Time

“A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” was how Winston Churchill described Russia’s position at the outset of World War II.

A statement that still rings true about our understanding of schizophrenia after more than 100 hundred years of research. While hints have appeared from time to time – autoimmunity, brain connectivity, genetics, age of onset – they seem to elude a synthesis that could help us make sense of this devastating psychiatric disorder.

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What the Doctor Ordered: Friendships

We all know that there are several lifestyle and environmental risk factors for early mortality, including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. However, we often forget a far less researched and talked about risk factor for mortality: loneliness and social isolation. Often that loneliness and social isolation are heightened during the holidays, which, ironically, is a time meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. However, for many it is a time that can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and a desire to withdraw. The holidays, therefore, present an excellent time to discuss the role we can all play in reinforcing connections in a world that, on the surface at least, is more connected than it has ever been due to…

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Provider Calculus: How to Set Up a Staff Payment Model Under a VBP

Editor’s note: Jeremy Hastings, Beacon’s Vice President of Corporate Strategy, wrote a blog piece posted on Tuesday, Oct. 27, about how the future’s unknowns present challenges in building and implementing value-based payments (VBPs). His post this week follows up to describe in detail the inherent difficulties in setting up a single provider in a VBP. However, in spite of the hard work required to establish VBPs, it is not only possible, but also critical, to do. Value-based payments (VBPs) are one of the next frontiers for innovation in health care. In behavioral health, the innovation is coming, but inertia is a powerful force that needs to be overcome. Some of this inertia is entirely appropriate, as changing a decades-long reimbursement…

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Value-Based Payments: Easy to Envision, Difficult to Realize

Television and film provide a surprising glimpse into the past and future. Consider the much-loved Back to the Future, where Marty McFly travels to October 2015 from his cozy 1985 confines. In an unscientific way, I spent some time looking at the first few scenes in the movie’s fictitious 2015 to compare them with how life actually turned out. VBPs are payer-provider contracts structured to provide payment and/or incentives for better outcomes. Today, 95 percent or more of our provider contracts are in pay for volume fee-for-service structures (not VBPs). Our crystal ball writers would probably score 25-30 percent on future predictability, with the huge misses being flying cars; hoverboards (this one is close as there are self-propelled skateboards, they…

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Time to Apply Behavioral Economics to Behavioral Health Care

The term “behavioral health” is about just exactly that – human behavior and its healthy alignment with the world. However, ironically, the very industry to improve behavioral health is way behind other industries in changing behavior. Consider the advertising industry: every day we are bombarded by sales tactics. Commercials on TV, ads on public transit, billboards on highways, grocery store aisle layouts, all of these add up to an all-out assault on our minds. Sometimes the target is our pocketbooks (think about the GEICO commercials); sometimes it is our actions (“smoking kills” campaigns in the 90s and 00s). Today, though, the tactics are more specific, focused, and nuanced than ever. The old-school way of behavior change was successful because it…

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Medical Marijuana: An Oxymoron?

Has public opinion trumped the rigors of the scientific method – clinically sound research that supports or negates the efficacy of marijuana for medical use? A recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) devoted two extensive clinical reviews, a research letter, an editorial and a patient page to topics related to medical marijuana. The reviews lay bare what is at the heart of the medical marijuana debate for the health care industry: Has public opinion trumped the rigors of the scientific method – clinically sound research that supports or negates the efficacy of marijuana for medical use? There are downstream effects of the legalization of medical marijuana that are not specifically related to efficacy or safety….

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If the Triple Aim Lost a Leg, Would It Still Stand?

The Triple Aim is an oft-cited health care mantra frequently invoked by health care’s informed clergy. A recent expensive demonstration project has produced outcomes that suggest one of its legs may be missing in action. It’s not the hoped-for result, but does it necessarily ring the death knell for the Triple Aim? Don Berwick and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) coined the term in 2008 to serve as a pithy aspirational antidote addressing upward spiraling health costs and poor outcomes in the United States. The US ranks first in the spend category—total health care costs as a percent of GDP (17.1 percent). This statistic might not be an issue if our health outcomes matched the ranking. Unfortunately, we also…

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Access to Behavioral Health Care Promotes Post-Traumatic Growth

Achieving positive psychological growth from adversity Behavioral health was an issue we avoided during my 20 years as an Army Infantry officer. It wasn’t until I began working for a national behavioral health company nine years ago that I understood the value of timely behavioral health care for our military. Through Chris Kyle’s story, America saw three key elements of behavioral health support that can lead not only to recovery but also to growth for an individual exposed to extreme physical and mental trauma, often referred to as post-traumatic growth. For many, that education came overnight. One recent box office hit gave more than 25 million Americans a realistic view of the importance of behavioral health support for the recovery…

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Technology and Behavioral Health: The Time Is Now

Defining the Role of Technology in Behavioral Health Thanks to the myriad of new technologies entering the market, the opportunity to revolutionize health care delivery as we know it today is great! However, how do we know what really works and where to start prioritizing our efforts? As expanding access holds great potential to improve outcomes, we must include the use of mobile technologies in how we think about service-delivery models. The answer lies in Beacon Health Options’ new technology strategy: identifying specific areas and capabilities of focus. A rush to develop solutions Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of new technology solutions for promoting physical and mental health. These new solutions have included web- and mobile-based…

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