By any measure, the statistics on the impacts of mental health and its estimated health costs are staggering. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates:
- 43.7 million American adults – or nearly 19% of all adults - had mental illness in 2012.
- Of the 43.7 million, an estimated 9.6 million had serious mental illness such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
- Children are similarly impacted: 20% of children have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder, either currently or at some point during their lifetime. Approximately 13% of children ages 8 to 10 had a diagnosable mental disorder in the past year.
- Mental illness costs the country at least $444 billion a year in medical costs, disability payments, and lost productivity.
Further, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has found that mental illness sends nearly 5.5 million people to emergency rooms each year, accounting for 4% of all visits.
Integrating Behavioral Health into Mental Health Care for Cost Containment and a Holistic Patient View
Through our direct participation with the New Hampshire Accountable Care Organization Project, we have seen that across all insurance types (Medicare, Medicaid, Commercial), the cost of healthcare for individuals with depression and co-occurring conditions is at least twice that of individuals with only a chronic condition.
Much needs to be done to lower those numbers. We applaud the leadership of one of our partners, the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which is hosting a day-long leadership forum on February 27th to address integrating behavioral health into the continuum of patient care, and we want to add our voice to the conversation.
At Geneia, our mission is to improve the health of the people we serve. Our health isn’t a shoulders-down proposition. We are whole beings and our mental health is every bit as much a contributor to our overall health as any other organ or body system. By extension, all of our data represents our whole being. A novel concept in healthcare that has maintained silos of data up until now.
So we are well into taking the leap to integrate all patient information—doctor notes, lab tests, prescriptions, x-rays, mental health, even Fitbit data—into one complete, user-friendly view of the patient. This holistic view enables physicians and all of the members of a Care Team to better treat patients by providing technology-enabled, personalized medicine. We can also better predict future healthcare needs and intervene earlier.
Medical experts know that mental illness, especially severe diagnoses, is associated with a greater prevalence of tuberculosis, HIV, obesity-related cancers, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, and other physical conditions. Yet, despite what we know about the impact of mental illness on a person’s health, integrated, holistic patients views like the ones we’re creating typically do not include mental health information.
How A Holilistic Patient Approach Can Work for Mental Health Treatment
I recognize all the privacy and HIPAA implications in adding mental health information to the patient view, but I think the best minds should be working to overcome these challenges. If we’re able to solve for these hurdles, physicians and patient care teams will be able to provide more comprehensive healthcare, better predict future healthcare needs, prevent avoidable visits to the emergency department, and ultimately be better able to estimate health costs.
At Geneia, we’re working to overcome the challenges in solving for the impacts of mental health, its outcomes and its costs. I hope you’ll join us.