Hospital-behavioral health partnerships: A magic bullet for readmissions?

In their ongoing quest to reduce preventable readmissions, hospitals may want to explore partnerships with behavioral health organizations, according to Behavioral Healthcare.

Although reducing readmissions is an industry-wide priority, there is growing recognition that many primary factors for readmissions are outside hospitals' control. But a decision to integrate with behavioral specialists could be a major boost for readmission reduction efforts, according the article. These partnerships could also lead to significant cost savings as readmissions are two to three times higher than average for patients with co-morbid substance abuse or mental health disorders, Behavioral Healthcare reports. 

However, this integration may be easier said than done, the publication reports. In addition to potential confusion around reimbursements, challenges include a lack of experience with older patients on the behavioral side and with behavioral health patients on the hospital side.

Despite these obstacles, behavioral health/hospital collaborations have seen some success already. For example, a partnership between Gosnold Addiction Treatment Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and a local healthcare provider led to the organizations adding a nurse and counselor in the hospital's medical/surgical departments, including the emergency room.

The collaboration cut transfers from the ER to the ICU by 75 percent and slashed lengths of stay for patients experiencing withdrawal symptoms by half. 

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