Integrated intervention: UBH CEO Gregory Bayer defines behavioral health in today's context

March 1, 2007

Traditionally, "behavioral health" refers to mental-health and substance-abuse treatment through psychosocial and/or pharmacy care, says Gregory Bayer, PhD.

TRADITIONALLY, "behavioral health" refers to mental-health and substance-abuse treatment through psychosocial and/or pharmacy care, says Gregory Bayer, PhD.

An important part of care today is providing the right care in the right place at the right time to improve affordability and achieve the best outcomes, according to Bayer. "In a world with an ever-increasing use of technology, the way people get information and receive assistance has changed," he says. "We not only need a network of clinicians and providers, but also alternative channels that are flexible and convenient so that it's easier for people to access the care and information they need in the way that works best for them. Some individuals and conditions are appropriately served by face-to-face counseling; for others, the right channel might be telephonic or online resources, or any combination of the above, at any time, based on their needs and comfort level. This also can improve affordability of behavioral health for employers, health plans and public sector entities."

A An integrated approach is designed to lead to better results for an individual while improving healthcare affordability. Many individuals have behavioral health issues that go undetected and untreated. For example, it is estimated that 28% of individuals with chronic conditions-such as heart disease, cancer, asthma and diabetes-also suffer from depression. Medical costs are estimated to be 2.5 times higher for people with these conditions who are also depressed. Depressed workers also have an estimated 1.5 to 3.2 more lost work days than other workers.

The medical and behavioral health industries must develop innovative approaches to work with a customer's medical partners to help identify and treat the total health of an individual.

Q Has there been any progress in measuring outcomes in behavioral health?

A Quantitative data to prove the return on investment for behavioral healthcare is an evolving science. UBH and the former PacifiCare Behavioral Health moved beyond the industry norm a few years ago by launching outcomes-measurement tools that tracked an individual's progress through self-reported feedback. When the two companies merged, their respective outcomes-measurement tools were combined and further refined.

Today, we measure outcomes in outpatient treatment and in many cases use concurrent interventions to help improve outcomes. We also use the data to help identify members who are likely to require higher levels of care so we can provide the treatment and other support services they need to achieve the best outcomes. In addition, we provide members with information about facilities that provide the best care based on outcomes. The result is consumers have relevant information to help them make informed healthcare decisions.