Results from Tennessee Health Link
Last month, the Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations (TAMHO), which represents 20 community mental health Centers and other non-profit behavioral health care providers, announced results from the first year of the Tennessee Health Link program. The data highlighted improved health outcomes for individuals and improved cost control for the state through better coordination of behavioral and physical health services.
The Tennessee Health Link program, launched in December 2016 as part of the Tennessee Health Care Innovation Initiative, encourages the integration of physical and behavioral health, as well as mental health recovery, ensuring coordinated healthcare services for TennCare members with behavioral health needs, according to the TennCare website.
TAMHO members operating in more than 500 locations in all 95 counties across the state that participate in the Health Link program provided services to more than 49,000 TennCare beneficiaries out of the 70,000 statewide Health Link enrollees. Services included comprehensive care management, care coordination, and health promotion, to support treatment adherence and reduce hospital admissions.
Results from 2017, the first full year of Health Link, indicated improved clinical outcomes as a result of care coordination, including:
- improved management of chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and mental illnesses;
- fewer visits to the emergency room and fewer hospital admissions for acute physical and mental health episodes; and
- enhanced mental health and physical screenings for children, adolescents and adults.
"We know that physical and mental health are intrinsically entwined, and TAMHO members are ensuring that Tennesseans receive the coordinated, whole-person, quality care they need," said TAMHO Executive Director Ellyn Wilbur. "Care coordination is paramount. We know that individuals with significant mental health and physical healthcare needs die, on average, 25 years earlier than those who receive more optimal care coordination between their network of medical providers who address their comprehensive healthcare needs. TAMHO members are closing this gap."
While 49,000 TennCare beneficiaries received care through TAMHO Health Link providers, there are still 51,000 individuals who qualify for Health Link and went unserved, which could lead to improved outcomes for more people and additional savings. In the first year, 60 percent of TAMHO Health Link providers earned a performance bonus for the results achieved through the program, including health improvements that translated to cost reduction for the overall health system by:
- reducing psychiatric hospital readmission rates;
- decreasing emergency department visits for acute physical and mental health episodes; and
- reducing all-cause hospital visits.
Wilbur continued, "We are making great strides in addressing a 'whole-person approach' to mental and physical healthcare, evidenced by the results from the first year of Health Link but more can be done."
TAMHO Health Link providers include: Alliance Healthcare Services, Carey Counseling Center, CMI Healthcare Services, Centerstone, Cherokee Health Systems, Frontier Health, Generations Health Association, Helen Ross McNabb Center, LifeCare Family Services, Pathways Behavioral Health Services, Peninsula, Professional Care Services of West TN, Inc., Quinco Mental Health Center, Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services and Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System.