Around one out of every four Americans battle behavioral health disorders each year according to a recent report by the American Hospital Association. Behavioral health disorders include mental illnesses, and substance abuse disorders, both of which are on the rise in our country. Of the 25% of Americans who deal with behavioral health disorders every year, only a fraction actually seek treatment. A low number of people seek treatment for numerous reasons: the negative stigma that is often associated with behavioral health disorders, high costs, and the lack of long-term care options. The US is striving to reduce these barriers to behavioral health treatment, and Information Technology will play a large role in getting quality care to those who need it.
One of the largest issues within behavioral healthcare has been the lack of integration with Primary Care. Primary Care physicians are not fully trained to handle behavioral health disorders, and so patients are typically referred elsewhere. There is presently little cohesion between a patient’s physical health treatment and mental health treatment. This is an issue, as physical and mental health are often intrinsically linked. In 2011, 17% of adults in America had co-occurring mental and health conditions that were linked to each other (American Hospital Association). One step to closing this gap between physical and mental health treatment is through better communication.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Behavioral Healthcare
Making the switch to electronic health records is already making vast improvements in the field of healthcare; see our recent blog post for more on this. By ensuring that a patient’s mental health records are available electronically, less information is lost in translation regarding a patient’s overall health. Also, greater collaboration is possible between different medical professionals through electronic health records.
The next step in improving continuity in behavioral healthcare is putting our electronic health records to work, and allowing Data Scientists to discover trends in the field of behavioral health. By spotting trends, it will be easier to make more accurate diagnoses, and to see what works, and what doesn’t. Making sense of our health care data through data science is the future. Predictive analytics can and will improve continuity of care as well as improve the insights for preventative measures to be taken.
Encouraging Long-Term Recovery in Behavior Healthcare
Treating behavioral health disorders often takes time, and frequent monitoring. This can be difficult, and costly. Through bringing IT to the field of behavioral health, this monitoring can be done electronically. This process of extending care to patients offsite through technology is referred to as telemedicine, and is gaining popularity. A recent study published by Health Affairs showed a decreased cost of $88 dollars per episode, and a very high level of satisfaction from patients who were treated in an online clinic.
As budgets are tightened and as health data becomes more readily available, the behavioral health industry will likely be held to increasingly higher performance standards. Recent violent crimes committed by individuals struggling to cope with mental health disorders have also placed greater emphasis on improving behavioral health initiatives. Implementing the right set of IT tools is essential in both tracking results, and improving performance.
Offspring Solutions has worked with a number of organizations to integrate technology into their Behavioral Healthcare Systems. Offspring Solutions’ wealth of experience in streamlining business through IT has helped organizations save enormous amounts of time, resources, and money. Whether it’s finding a way to store electronic health records in the cloud, or finding answers that are hidden in your data, Offspring Solutions possesses the staff and subject matter expertise to assist your organization. Give Offspring Solutions a call at (703) 227-7752 to setup a consultation for your business today.
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