Integrating Physical and Behavioral Health: The Time is Now

Unparalleled workforce shortages, negative margins and increasing labor expenses are creating multiple challenges for hospitals and health systems — but integrating physical and behavioral health services can reduce the total cost of care, improve outcomes and improve workforce satisfaction. Integrated care can decrease the impact of these and other challenges. There are at least six positive impacts of integrated care:

Improved patient outcomes
Reduced total cost of care
Increased access to behavioral health services
Enhanced patient satisfaction
Better workforce productivity and satisfaction
Reduced health care disparities and stigma

The push for integrated care is not new, but the time to act is now. Government and commercial payers are increasing coverage and consumers are demanding more timely access to behavioral health care. Integration improves outcomes, reduces the total cost of care and enhances workforce satisfaction.

The AHA’s vision is of a just society of healthy communities, where all individuals reach their highest potential for health. Integration of physical and behavioral health services can help us move closer to achieving the vision.