AHP Publishes White Paper on Population Health

AHP today announced the publication of a new white paper, Achieving Population Health: Behavioral Health Systems as the Link to Success. The paper points to the key role that behavioral and social services organizations play in achieving healthy populations, a goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These service providers often care for society's sickest patients, those with co-occurring disorders that include mental health conditions, who end up costing the healthcare system the most.1 When behavioral health and social service providers work together to integrate with primary care health systems, there is tremendous potential for supporting the goal of population health.

"Parity in coverage and access to treatment and health equity are inexorable realities that all systems of carefrom social services providers and behavioral networks to large medical systemsmust move toward as quickly and effectively as possible," said Neal S. Shifman, AHP's President and CEO "and population health can and should be the vehicle for that movement. It's finally time for systems that can treat the whole person, taking social determinants of health into full consideration, and for reimbursement to be based on the broadest possible definition of value."

The drive toward integrated care, evidence-based practices, and self-management of long-term conditions—coupled with performance-based incentives—puts increasing pressure on the health and behavioral health care systems to provide interdisciplinary care, build recovery competencies, and adopt new reimbursement models. "Population health management is a way to accomplish the goals of the ACA," continued Shifman, "and this white paper lays out a path for behavioral and social services providers to create connections and networks that bridge the gaps."

The white paper calls for adoption of an approach to integrating systems of care called "population-linked service systems" (PLSS). PLSS represents the connection of social services, behavioral health treatment, and primary care necessary to improve population health. PLSS focuses on and addresses the needs of people who live on the margins—individuals whose lives are most at risk and who, without proper care and attention, generate the most significant health care expenditures. The most vulnerable populations are those most in need of PLSS approaches—individuals with mental, substance use, and co-occurring disorders; those with intellectual and development disabilities; older adults; veterans; and people who experience chronic homelessness.

"Providers who know and effectively support care for the most vulnerable populations are in a critical position to help meet the goals of healthcare reformthe triple aimand thus ultimately contribute to real population healthpopulations supported by preventive care, wellness care, and effective intervention and treatment," said Patrick Gauthier, Director of AHP Healthcare Solutions, the company's division focused on helping clients meet the demands and take advantage of the opportunities inherent in healthcare reform.

AHP's new white paper includes a review of networking and other options for behavioral health and social services providers considering methods for integrating with primary health systems, such as management service organizations, independent provider associations, and more. It also includes an overview of provider business operations that must be put in place for effective approaches to healthcare reform, and to support integration and population health efforts.

Download your copy of the white paper now.

About AHP

Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP) provides effective technical assistance, training, research and evaluation, program development, and consulting and business advisory services, focused on improving health and human services systems that help people live full and productive lives. Since its founding in 1980, AHP has realized its mission—to develop “real-world solutions for systems change”—through a focus on improving health and human services for vulnerable populations across a wide range of topic areas. Powered by a team of national behavioral health and health reform experts with health insurance backgrounds, AHP is the architect of a growing number of integrated specialty provider network solutions operating across wide geographies, serving behavioral health, HIV/AIDS, and developmental disability populations, and many other healthcare organizations. 

1 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). (2012, November). Slide 12. Health care costs concentrated in sick few—Sickest 10% account for 65% of expenses: Trends in healthcare costs and the concentration of medical expenditures. Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved from www.ahrq.gov/news/events/nac/2012-07-nac/cohenmeyers/cohenmeyerssl12.html