Care coordination improves mental and physical health outcomes

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NASHVILLE —  The Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations which represents 20 community mental health centers and other nonprofit behavioral health care providers, announced results from the first year of the Tennessee Health Link program, highlighting 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 health care services for TennCare members with behavioral health needs, according to the TennCare website. 

TAMHO members, who operate in more than 500 location in all 95 counties across the state, participate in the Health Link program, providing more than 49,000 TennCare beneficiaries out of the 70,000 statewide Health Link enrollment with 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, indicate 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 Ellyn Wilbur, executive director of TAMHO.  “Care coordination is paramount.  We know that individuals with significant mental health and physical health care 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.  Serving those individuals could lead to additional savings and improved outcomes for even more people.

Wilbur continued, “We are making great strides in addressing a “whole-person approach” to mental and physical health care, evidenced by the results from the first year of Health Link,” continued Wilbur.  “But more can be done.  TAMHO members are working to ensure that TennCare beneficiaries can easily access coordinated care.”

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 Tennessee Inc., Quinco Mental Health Center, Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services and Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System.

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