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By Monica E. Oss

Last month, I read an interesting research report from the Dartmouth Institute For Health Policy And Clinical Practice, Organizational and Financial Integration of Behavioral Health into Accountable Care Organizations. The long and the short of the findings?

  1. Most (92%) of ACOs are responsible for behavioral health services
  2. A third of ACOs have no formal relationships with behavioral health providers

I think this is a function of both the relative immaturity of the ACO organizations and the nature of the organizations (largely, but not all, hospital systems) founding them. And in her presentation, How To Create Successful Partnerships With Managed Care Organizations: The New Rules For Service Provider Organizations at the 2013 Planning & Innovation Institute, Rhonda Robinson-Beale, M.D., Chief Medical Officer Optum Behavioral Solutions brought up another issue – there are multiple ACO models for addressing the issue of how best to deliver behavioral health services.



The Dartmouth study found that ACOs are more likely to offer behavioral health services if behavioral health provider organizations or federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are part of the ACO collaboration, if the ACO has well developed care coordination models, and if the ACO is participating in the Pioneer ACO program.

I see this current market snapshot as a great opportunity for the entrepreneurial behavioral health organization.  To get up to speed on ACOs, check out Moving Ahead (Reluctantly) With ACO P4P, What You Need to Know About ACOs, The ACO Snapshot, and ACOs In Four StepsOPEN MINDS Circle Members can also review our latest market intelligence report, Market Intelligence Report: How Do Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) Differ?; and check out Top Resources On Accountable Care Organizations.

For some first-hand experience, don’t miss the session ACOs & Specialty Care – Where Do Specialists Fit? presented by Diana Knaebe, MSW, President & Chief Executive Officer, Heritage Behavioral Health Center and John F. Talbot, Ph.D., Vice President for Integration Product Development, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, at the 2014 OPEN MINDS Planning & Innovation Institute.

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