Improving Value-Based Care in Behavioral Health: An Interview with Vincent Bellwoar, PhD
Partnering with Valant EHR to increase market share and profits while meeting the challenges of Integrated Care, Outcomes Measures, and Value-Based Contracts
Over the past dozen years, we have seen a significant shift in the role of behavioral healthcare. Once treated as an ancillary to primary care, we now recognize the fact that mental health is a key component to tackling some of the nation’s biggest killers. Incorporating integrated and value-based healthcare goals allows providers to treat the mind and body as intended – a single, holistic entity. Vincent J Bellwoar, CEO of Springfield Psychological, a Valant customer for the past several years, personifies the benefits of an integrated and value-based goal.
As the healthcare industry has changed, how has Springfield Psychological sought to keep up?
We’ve grown exponentially and improved our margins while also improving health outcomes for our clients by staying abreast of important trends impacting the health care industry. Valant has been a great partner in preparing us to handle these industry trends which include: Integrated Care, Value Based Care and Measurement Based Care through outcome measures.
Can you tell us more about integrated care?
Integrating behavioral health with physical health care has been shown to improve health outcomes and lower costs. The seminal of 2014 estimated that medical costs increased by 2-3 times when a behavioral health issue was present. The 2016 Intermountain Study found that for every dollar spent on behavioral health integration costs, there was a savings of five dollars in total healthcare costs. Despite a growing body of evidence that health outcomes are improved by integrating physical and behavioral health and despite the new billing codes that reimburse for integrated care services, implementation of BHI continues to lag behind the research in the commercial insurance markets where BHI providers operate fiscally separate from medical providers. Significant opportunities remain available for behavioral health practices to meet the needs of behavioral health integration. Financially independent BH practices need to have a sophisticated EHR to be able to integrate clinically with medical systems while remaining fiscally independent. Valant has been instrumental in this regard; they have supported our needs for data sharing, measurement, communication, and mobile access, We worked closely with Valant to set up Direct Messaging, an HL7 protocol for secure data sharing, and this allowed us to communicate directly with other medical system’s EHR such as EPIC and NextGen.
What tangible benefits have you seen since starting to use Valant’s EHR solution?
Valant also worked with us to better navigate the reporting necessary in outcome measurement, as a measurement is a core component of integrated care. Valant’s mobile documentation and intra-office messaging system allow us to embed clinical staff in primary care settings which helped to foster efficient and effective communication among our providers and the hundreds of medical providers in our community. Overall with Valant providing the critical infrastructure, our integrated care program has grown from 3 to 70 primary and medical specialty practices. And within the last 3 years, we have obtained unique contracting arrangements with large medical systems and insurance payers that generates an additional 20% of revenue in the BHI space.
How have you found that Valant’s EHR has helped in implementing Value Based Care programs?
Over the past several years, health care payers, including the US government, have been incorporating payment schemes that reward value over the volume of care delivered. Examples of this extend from incrementally higher payments over standard fee-for-service fees for high performance to shared cost savings to full-on risk-bearing capitation and per-member-per-month payment. Private practice behavioral health practices that receive over $90,000 in annual Medicare Payments can already participate in a pay-for-performance model through MIPS, which is part of CMS’s value-based care model. We have been fortunate enough to find health insurance partners that have been willing to innovate and do their own value-based contracts that follow the model of paying more over standard fee-for-service fees if we achieve better outcomes. The performance metrics cover areas like access, outcomes measurement, integrated care and use of technology. Valant’s custom fields, automated outcome measurement, and support for integrated care were indispensable in helping us to increase revenue by 20% for these contracts.
How has Valant’s EHR been helping you in terms of Measurement-Based Care (MBC)?
While both integrated and value-based care depend on measurement, measurement is important on its own as it helps us improve our own clinical outcomes and deliver a better experience for our clients. Also, as employers begin to appreciate the importance of behavioral healthcare, payers can advertise MBC practices within their provider network to differentiate and win business. We have been impressed with Valant’s extensive library of outcome measurement content and how they continually evolve to integrate measurement of outcomes in clinical and administrative workflows. We are really looking forward to using its new aggregated outcomes data reports to improve provider performance and give us better tools to demonstrate to and capture more value from our insurance partners.
What have been the end results of implementing an EHR like Valant for your business?
In summary, Valant has contributed to our success in a highly competitive market in two ways. First, having a superior EHR that seamlessly integrates clinical notes, scheduler, and billing, had allowed us to rapidly expand our already large organization, more than doubling our size in just a few years from 3 outpatient offices to 10 across two states. Second, Valant’s support for Integrated and Value-Based Care has allowed us to grow revenue by 140% and handsomely grow our margins—even after the cost for hardware and software are taken into consideration. Valant’s tools for automating outcomes measurement and reporting on outcome measures will help us evaluate our provider performance and capture more value in our insurance contracts. That’s why I consider Valant not just an EHR but rather a strategic partner with whom we’ve joined forces to help transform behavioral health care together.
Interested in learning more about Valant?
We invite you to check out Valant’s Behavioral Health EHR and see if it may be a good fit for your practice.