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The Cost Effectiveness of Embedding a Behavioral Health Clinician into an Existing Primary Care Practice to Facilitate the Integration of Care: A Prospective, Case–Control Program Evaluation

Abstract

This project evaluated the cost effectiveness of integrating behavioral health services into a primary care practice using a prospective, case–control design. New Directions Behavioral Health collaborated with a large Kansas City primary care practice to integrate a licensed psychologist (i.e., behavioral health clinician) into the practice. Patient claims data were examined 21 months prior to and 14 months after the psychologist began providing full-time behavioral health services within the practice. Claims data from patients with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City insurance (BCBSKC) who had at least one encounter with the psychologist (N = 239) were compared to control patients (BCBSKC fully insured patients at large) to calculate cost savings. The results demonstrated that integrating behavioral health services into the practice was associated with $860.16 per member per year savings or 10.8% savings in costs for BCBSKC patients. Integrating behavioral health services into primary care may lead to reductions in health care costs.

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Funding

This project was internally funded by the New Directions Behavioral Health organization.

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Correspondence to Kaile M. Ross.

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Conflict of Interest

Betsy Klein is an employee of New Directions Behavioral Health, which funded the behavioral health services and funded the behavioral health services and analyses for this project. Katherine Ferro is an employee of New Directions Behavioral Health. Debra McQueeney is an employee of New Directions Behavioral Health. Rebecca Gernon, Benjamin Miller, and Kaile Ross declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

This project was conducted as a program evaluation. This project was evaluated by the institutional review board and was determined to not qualify as research and therefore was exempted from requiring review and approval.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

This program evaluation project was evaluated by the institutional review board and determined to be exempt and not requiring informed consent; therefore, informed consent was not obtained from the patients whose data in this program evaluation.

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Ross, K.M., Klein, B., Ferro, K. et al. The Cost Effectiveness of Embedding a Behavioral Health Clinician into an Existing Primary Care Practice to Facilitate the Integration of Care: A Prospective, Case–Control Program Evaluation. J Clin Psychol Med Settings 26, 59–67 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-018-9564-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-018-9564-9

Keywords

  • Integrated care
  • Behavioral health
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Primary care