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Financial Benefits of Integrating Psychological Services with Medical Care

Laura Lees, PsyD, CEDS, MSCP
Albert Bellg, PhD

When we treat psychological issues in medical patients, we can lower their other health care costs.

This fact has been supported by research for decades, and it is now more important than ever. As we evolve from fee-for-service into a population-based value model for medical reimbursement with a much clearer benefit to lowering system-wide costs, it is increasingly important to integrate psychological services with the care of medical patients. For instance, here are some study results (
click here for references) showing the cost difference psychological services can make: 

  • Use of health care services decreased by 16% for those receiving behavioral health treatment, while it increased by 12% for patients who were not treated for their behavioral health care needs
  • Depression treatment in primary care for those with diabetes led to $896 lower total healthcare costs over 24 months
  • Depression treatment in primary care resulted in $3,300 lower total healthcare cost over 48 months

That’s just the beginning. Those research findings are just a small part of our summary here of the research about the medical cost benefit (and treatment benefit) of integrated psychological services. Our goal is to provide psychologists, other clinicians and administrators with the research and educational resources needed to understand the benefits of integrating psychological care with medical populations and within medical settings. This is the not-too-distant future of health care, and it is vital for clinicians to understand the business implications of integrated care as well as for administrators to understand the physical health benefits and cost savings that psychological interventions can have as they transition toward a value-based business model.

Using this resource. While it made sense to divide this information into categories for ease of access, the categories are not meant to be exclusive. It is just as important for administrators to read the articles “For Psychologists” as it is for psychologists to read the articles “For Administrators” in order to successfully work through the new mandates of health care reform together with a common understanding of the end goal. These resources can also be useful to legislators, insurance companies and other health care providers involved in developing new systems and models of care.

There are several articles in each section, which together offer a thorough overview of the issues. Where possible, there is a brief summary of the article, along with an online link to the original article. Also provided are additional links to other resources of interest in that category.

We intend this to be an actively growing resource as well. Let us know if you have additional studies, educational materials or other resources you’d like us to consider including. Your comments are welcome! You can link to the pages on specific topics below.  

FOR ADMINISTRATORS

Medical Cost Offset in Integrated Care

FOR PSYCHOLOGISTS

Practice Issues in Integrated Care

Clinical Skills in Integrated Care

 

 

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