New Research: Progress toward the Coordination of Behavioral Health Care through Cal MediConnect

The UCSF Community Living Policy Center and the UC Berkeley Health Research for Action Center released a research brief examining the efforts of Cal MediConnect (CMC) plans to coordinate behavioral health services for their members. The brief describes the progress CMC plans have made toward better coordination of behavioral health services, including new integrated models of care, successful strategies, and ongoing challenges.

The data came from 27 interviews with stakeholders from CMC plans, county behavioral health departments, and CMC plans’ in-network behavioral health providers on their perspectives on the integration of behavioral health services.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Interdisciplinary Care Team (ICT) meetings were one of the most successful approaches to behavioral health care coordination. Though collaboration between behavioral health and medical providers happened before CMC was implemented, these ICTs were the first standard, formal meetings, which subsequently led to better communication and more collaboration across CMC plans, county behavioral health departments, and providers.
  • CMC plans connected beneficiaries to behavioral health services through intensive outreach by care coordinators. These behavioral health care coordinators met in-person with beneficiaries, connected them to resources, and in some cases accompanied them to scheduled appointments to assist with needed follow-through.
  • Although the level of integration differed, several CMC plans took additional steps to integrate care for “mild to moderate” behavioral health services. Medi-Cal health plans have historically delegated mild-to-moderate behavioral health services to an outside health care group with expertise in behavioral health. Coinciding with the implementation of CMC, some plans began building their own behavioral health provider networks to directly provide behavioral health services, especially for mild-to-moderate benefits.
  • CMC plans made progress toward coordinating more closely with county BH departments that continue to provide “carved out” specialty behavioral health care to their members.
  • Communication between CMC plans and county BH departments was improved through various promising practices such as formal and informal meetings and the co-location of providers, though data sharing remained a major challenge.

For full survey findings, complete evaluation, and recommendations, visit www.TheSCANFoundation.org.

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