Integrating behavioral health across all patient journeys can transform a health system and how it delivers care for its community.
As Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer at Iris Telehealth, I’ve seen first-hand the impact effective behavioral health integration can have on a health system and its patients. Whether through better clinical outcomes and access, increased revenue, or positive margins – our health system partners sustainably leverage and integrate scalable behavioral health services seamlessly across their ecosystem.
Learn how our partners are finding success by integrating behavioral health services across their health systems, what the patient journey looks like through a virtual lens, and the financial impact virtual services can have on a health system.
The tangible impact of integrating behavioral health services
Experiencing the tangible impacts of integrated behavioral health services starts by providing timely access to quality care – and making sure that care is financially sustainable.
Once the need for behavioral health care is met, health systems may experience the following benefits:
- Better access
- Better patient outcomes
- Improved financials
- Reduced total cost of care
- A patient and provider community that feels supported
Helping health systems take back control of a fragmented healthcare landscape
Today, health systems are being disaggregated by a myriad of competitors – both new and old. This trend is contributing to lower health system revenue, but also to a further fragmentation of the patient journey. At Iris, we want to help health systems take back control of this fragmentation to ensure patients are getting integrated, whole-person care.
We believe providing integrated behavioral healthcare is a critical component to patient care. The reality is – behavioral healthcare should be infused into every journey. Whether a patient just received a cancer diagnosis, is an expecting mother, or is experiencing escalating anxiety at a primary care appointment, integrating behavioral health care will drive better patient care and eliminate the need for a patient to look elsewhere to fill gaps in their care needs.
At the end of the day, our goal is to help health systems deliver on their ultimate promise of delivering whole-person, integrated care.
How to integrate virtual services across a health system
The mistake many health systems make is believing that integrating virtual care into their health system is as simple as having virtual providers available to see patients. In practice, it is much more nuanced. We believe in the concept of “integrating virtual care locally” – whereby the referring provider knows and trusts the behavioral health care team they are relying on, and the virtual team truly knows the local dynamics. This approach is really the only way to build trust and create true continuity of care.
Additionally, the care experience has to be the same whether a patient is part of an Iris program or not. That is why our entire patient journey is built with the idea of integrating into, and leveraging, the health system technology already in place. The Iris provider is integrated seamlessly into the health system and the patient journey feels no different than it would if they were seeing an in-person provider.
The financial impact of integrating behavioral health services
The financial realities of providing behavioral healthcare are undoubtedly a challenge. But, in our experience, it is possible to deliver high-quality behavioral health care and have it be financially sustainable.
We have helped health systems double their behavioral health revenue while delivering a 10% program operating margin. And, study after study shows that providing outpatient behavioral healthcare reduces the total cost of care.
How is this impact possible? It comes down to the disciplined execution of a few key tenets:
- First, ensure you’re driving top-of-license care from a true care team approach. Yes, it is essential to have psychiatrists available for high acuity patients, but from our experience, we’ve seen psychiatrists relied on too heavily for patient care than what is clinically appropriate. That is why we leverage industry-leading navigation assessments, with a true care team approach to make sure every patient is seen by their optimal provider with a tailored care plan.
- Second, be sure to optimize the operational complexities of care delivery. Patient no-show rates, provider turnover, full provider panels, and consultation with referring providers are all critical to ensuring the program is sustainable.
- Finally, revenue cycle optimization is critical. Many health systems are not getting paid optimally for the care they provide and that has to change. Revenue cycle optimization means ensuring the optimal codes are being billed, providers are documenting appropriately, and payers are approving claims. Constant measurement, continuous improvement and dialogue with payers are critical, and can make a significant difference.
It is a reality that if there is “no money, there is no mission,” and therefore we are dedicated to ensuring our programs deliver on high clinical quality and financial sustainability.
The spirit of partnership with Iris Telehealth
At Iris, one of our core values is to suck less every day, which speaks to our commitment to continuous improvement and our journey to excellence. No health system has behavioral health figured out, and no health system expects to be perfect tomorrow. Everyone’s on a journey to be better than they were yesterday. If together we commit to continual improvement, we will make a lot of progress and deliver better care for our communities.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can work together, don’t hesitate to contact us today!
As Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, Dan Ferris drives strategy and revenue growth acceleration by identifying market opportunities and increasing awareness of how Iris can uniquely solve customer needs. Dan brings twenty years of healthcare experience in various marketing, product and strategy roles at Hillrom, CIGNA, Abbott, and Putnam Associates, a healthcare strategy consultancy.