In the latest step in New Jersey’s march toward value-based care, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield has launched a pilot program that seeks to integrate mental and physical treatments to improve care for patients suffering from Crohn’s disease. Value-based care rewards providers for outcomes, not patient volume.
The effort is the latest in more than a bakers’ dozen of “Episodes of Care” programs Horizon has implemented to better coordinate all treatments throughout the diagnoses, treatment and recovery from a variety of conditions, ranging from pregnancy to prostate cancer. But it is the first time the company, the state’s largest insurance provider with over 3.8 million customers, has woven a mental health component into the fabric of a program.
Research has shown that truly integrating behavioral health services, designed to treat mental illness and substance use disorders, with primary care — and vice versa — leads to healthier, happier patients and reduces the cost of care over time. And while there has been steady progress toward value-based care — which has been shown to improve health and reduce expenses — regulatory and payment hurdles have posed challenges to coordinating behavioral and physical healthcare.