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Gina Pferdehirt
Director, Public Relations & Community Relations
UPMC Health Plan

UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care Announces Positive Impact of Behavioral Health Home Plus Model for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness in New Article Published in Health Affairs Journal

Article describes groundbreaking model that increases patient activation and use of outpatient care among adults with serious mental illness

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 6, 2018) – The UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care, which was created to support innovation and foster research collaboration for improving health care value, announced the release of a new article featured in the February issue of Health Affairs, one of the nation’s pre-eminent academic journals dedicated to the health care industry.

The article highlighted in Health Affairs focuses on the impact of a uniquely comprehensive behavioral health home plus model for people with serious mental illness who are at high risk for chronic disease and shortened lifespans. The model was developed by Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, part of UPMC Insurance Services Division, in collaboration with members, families, providers, and government agencies. The study, funded by an award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), involved 11 community mental health providers in Pennsylvania who delivered one of two behavioral health home approaches, patient self-directed or provider-supported.

“Adults with serious mental illness have a decreased life expectancy of up to 25 years compared to the general population and are often faced with a combination of high medical need and challenges in accessing high quality medical care,” said Dr. James Schuster, chief medical officer for Medicaid, special needs, and behavioral services at UPMC Insurance Services Division and lead author of the Health Affairs study. “Often, these individuals are at high risk for chronic disease, which makes the integration of behavioral health and physical health critically important.”

Behavioral health homes bring together managed care organizations and community mental health providers to build a collaborative approach for improving both physical and mental wellness with a focus on prevention and holistic health.

The 11 community mental health providers who participated in the study were supported through a culture of wellness that promotes healthy lifestyle, disease prevention, and health education or promotion. Results of the study revealed that both patient self-directed and provider-supported approaches significantly increased patient activation in care, engagement in primary and specialty care, and perceived mental health status among the study participants. The study also found that the learning collaborative process used to support model implementation helped both patients and providers in their efforts to improve health and wellness.

“The results of this important study can positively impact the way physical and behavioral health care services are delivered to patients with serious mental illness in Pennsylvania and beyond,” said Dr. David Kelley, chief medical officer at the Pa. Department of Human Services’ Office of Medical Assistance Programs. “This model demonstrates the value of Pennsylvania’s approach to behavioral health services for Medicaid members, which encourages close collaboration between patients, providers, county-based human service programs, and managed care organizations.”

Based on the success of the behavioral health home approaches featured in the study, more than 40 additional providers across Pennsylvania have implemented similar models. The UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care recently received an additional award from PCORI to disseminate the behavioral health home plus model to methadone treatment programs for adults and residential treatment programs for children.

The research featured in the Health Affairs article is drawing praise from policy and behavioral health experts.

“This integrated model for individuals with serious mental illness is both valuable and innovative,” said Allison Hamblin, senior vice president at Center for Health Care Strategies. “We have been working with the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care and Community Care Behavioral Health Organization for over a decade to enhance this and similar programs and appreciate this clear demonstration of program efficacy. Many elements of this model are worthy of broad replication across the country.”

Peggy Swarbrick, director of the Wellness Institute at Collaborative Support Program of New Jersey and Practice Innovation and Wellness at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, added that “The UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care and Community Care’s implementation of wellness coaching in this behavioral health home model has spread its impact to dozens of agencies and thousands of individuals in Pennsylvania. They have been innovative and patient-centered partners as we continue to collaborate on improving integrated care for individuals with serious mental illness.”

In conjunction with the release of this new journal article, the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care recently launched a new thought leadership initiative to highlight innovative research studies and published works by UPMC Insurance Services Division experts. For summaries of this article – along with recent and upcoming articles – please visit www.upmchealthplan.com/ideas.

For the full text of the Health Affairs article, please visit www.healthaffairs.org.


About UPMC Insurance Services Division

The UPMC Insurance Services Division is owned by UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), a world-renowned health care provider and insurer based in Pittsburgh, Pa. As a provider-led organization that is part of an integrated health care delivery system, the UPMC Insurance Services Division is committed to providing its members better health, more financial security and the peace of mind they deserve. The UPMC Insurance Services Division partners with UPMC and community network providers to produce a combination of knowledge and expertise that provides the highest quality care at the most affordable price. The UPMC Insurance Services Division – which includes UPMC Health Plan, WorkPartners, UPMC for Life, UPMC for You, UPMC for Kids, and Community Care Behavioral Health — offers a full range of group health insurance, Medicare, Special Needs, CHIP, Medical Assistance, behavioral health, employee assistance and workers' compensation products and services to more than 3.2 million members. For more information, visit www.upmchealthplan.com.