Role of Behavioral Health In ACOs

So I’m the head of an ACO, a small one, but it’s still an ACO by all accounts and two years ago when I started it I never really thought of this question: should an ACO purchase traditional separate behavioral health services or build nontraditional behavioral health services that are available to comorbid ACO patients in inpatient and outpatient medical settings? My ACO is very much non traditional it that it leans on volunteers and existing social/community services to improve outcomes; so my only option was the ‘build’ model. For larger ACOs, researchers published in the AJMC this month, suggest the same approach, citing several benefits, including in-network behavioral health providers who could “legitimately move to population risk-based contracts with health plans and government programs in which behavioral health services “would be included as an integral part of medical benefits.”

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