While efforts to integrate behavioral health and medical care have generally focused on primary care, integration is needed across the continuum of care, including inpatient medical units. Patients living with co-occurring behavioral health and medical conditions are more likely to be admitted (and re-admitted) to the hospital. They are more likely to suffer harm, have complications during their inpatient stay, and are more likely to have a longer overall length of stay. Research suggests that approximately 20 to 50 percent of patients admitted to hospitals to receive medical care also have a behavioral health diagnosis, numbers that may be higher in practice.
Despite the high prevalence of these comorbidities, the rates of psychiatric consultation in many hospitals are often very low, indicating a significant treatment gap for patients with a co-occurring behavioral health condition who are admitted to the hospital for a primary medical concern. These issues call for a new approach, one that moves from reactive psychiatric consultation to proactively and reliably address patients’ behavioral health needs with an integrated behavioral health team.
This Webcast will describe key considerations for how health systems can develop an integrated medical and behavioral health service in inpatient units and dive into the innovative Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) model, which has improved outcomes, reduced costs, and is spreading around the country.