In the News: May 23–30

Youth Behavioral Health Cases Doubled in the Last Decade

A recent Modern Healthcare article details how behavioral health diagnoses have drastically increased over the past decade, particularly youth cases with mental health and substance abuse issues. According to an analysis of 28 billion private health insurance claims, behavioral health cases rose 108% from 2007 to 2017, doubling from 1.3% to 2.7% of all medical claim lines. A disproportionate majority of these claims came from those aged 22 or younger, with the most common diagnosis being major depressive disorder. Generalized anxiety disorders, adjustment disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse also trended in the same direction.

EDs have seen a steady utilization increase for pediatric behavioral health. Treating behavioral health issues at early stages is often far less expensive, driving health systems continue to build out their behavioral health capacity, specifically for younger ages. The Mental Health Parity Act has helped these efforts, as it requires reimbursement standards for mental health and substance abuse treatments to be on par with its coverage for medical and surgical treatment.

Access to pediatric behavioral health services continues to be a challenge across the US, with rising incidence and patient complexity coupled with workforce shortages impacting service availability. To learn more about the changing pediatric behavioral health population and the services necessary to meet the demands of this growing market, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Pediatrics Update 2017: Deeper Dive into Pediatric Behavioral Health.

OIG Finds Separate EHRs Hinder ACO Care Coordination

A new Modern Healthcare article discusses the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on the adoption of health IT. Research teams from the OIG interviewed 6 accountable care organizations (ACOs) to better understand how they were using health IT tools to coordinate patient care.

Findings revealed that despite investing millions of dollars in EHRs, providers often struggle to exchange patient data with colleagues in and outside of their network. The most efficient transfer of information occurred when ACO network members used the same EHR system. Often, ACOs with multiple EHR systems rely on third-party health IT tools or exchange information via telephone, email and fax. In April of this year, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology drafted the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, which will promote nationwide interoperability and set federally recognized data-sharing standards.

As hospitals across the country continue to invest in health IT services, a critical prerequisite will be a clear digital strategy. Health systems must work to ensure that their adoption of EHR and third-party IT tools are fully integrated across sites of care and meet consumer needs. To learn more about strategic considerations for deploying health care technology, please review the Sg2 case study EHR Primes Path to Consumer-Friendly Care.

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