Health systems and hospitals can boost their behavioral health programs by working with an outside partner.
Having a shared vision is the key to success in joint behavioral health acute care partnerships, say a pair of health care executives.
Access to behavioral health services is a major challenge for health systems and hospitals. Joint behavioral health acute care partnerships are one strategy to improve access to services.
Last year, Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport Y ocean health opened Louisiana Behavioral Health, a new 89-bed behavioral health hospital in Shreveport, as a joint behavioral health acute care partnership. In September 2021, Louisiana Behavioral Health established a 30 bed unit for behavioral health patients who also have a diagnosis of COVID-19.
A shared vision is critical to these types of partnerships, according to David Callecod, MBA, Interim CEO of Ochsner LSU, and Stuart Archer, MBA, CEO of Oceans Healthcare.
“The most successful of these joint partnerships start with a shared vision. Behavioral health is a big issue for many of the health systems and hospitals we work with. With Ochsner LSU, we have a shared vision of the struggles and need to address behavioral health patients and their needs at a level and in a way that all other service lines have achieved, in terms of care and resources,” says Archer.
“A joint partnership begins with a shared vision of what we want to achieve. In behavioral health, many of the patients, their families, and the communities we serve do not have behavioral health resources. Many times, we have made it difficult for patients and families to navigate behavioral health. Alignment from a goals perspective and a care perspective is the key element we look at when we think about these partnerships and their ability to succeed,” says Callecod.
Joint Partnership of the Ochsner Foundation LSU and Oceans Healthcare
From Ochsner LSU’s perspective, Oceans Healthcare was an ideal partner to help open an independent behavioral health hospital, says Callecod. “From a health system point of view, the most important factor is going through a deliberate process of looking for the companies that can meet your needs. Who are the organizations that have similar values and similar approaches to excellence and providing quality care?” great patient experience? It’s also important to have a partner who is familiar with your market and the state you’re in. Certainly in our case, Oceans Healthcare being familiar with the unique challenges that the state of Louisiana represents was very important for us”.
Plano, Texas-based Oceans Healthcare, which is one of the leading providers of behavioral health services in Louisiana, saw Ochsner LSU as an attractive partner, Archer says. “From our perspective, the right partner is a not-for-profit health system and mission-driven organization committed to results and quality, not only in traditional service lines, but also believes that health patients deserve the same resources, care and attention. One of the biggest things that drew us to the Ochsner LSU organization is their commitment to the communities they serve and how they see the needs of vulnerable populations.”
Ochsner LSU needed a partner to power the health system’s behavioral health services, Callecod says. “At Ochsner LSU, we faced a unique challenge in that we had a 37-bed behavioral health unit that was based on the 10the floor of our Level 1 trauma center. So our ability to grow that unit and take it to where it was state of the art and best practice was impossible in the existing space. By doing this partnership and creating a separate facility, we were able to reclaim those beds and use them for the acute care services that we needed to expand in the trauma center.”
Opening Louisiana Behavioral Health has increased Ochsner LSU’s inpatient and outpatient capabilities, Archer says. “These partnerships tend to focus on inpatient beds, which is where some of our sickest patients traditionally receive their initial care after entering an emergency room or other setting. Our partnership with Ochsner LSU has also expanded outpatient services.” dramatically. Long-term In the long-term, expanding outpatient services is as important as anything we do on the inpatient side. Through our partnership, we’ve added intensive outpatient services that work to address chronic mental health issues of our patients. Those outpatient services are only going to grow over time.”
Decreased utilization of the emergency room
Creating an independent behavioral health hospital through a joint venture will reduce emergency room utilization by behavioral health patients in Louisiana, Archer says.
“Over time, one of the most important things a joint partnership will do is normalize care. A family in need of behavioral health care can [now] go directly to the behavioral health hospital. Law enforcement will see that they can take a patient to a setting other than the ER. Many of our patients have chronic mental illness. Once a patient is enrolled in high-quality outpatient therapy and has access to a prescriber, we have shown that we can reduce ER readmission, even among the highest acuity patients, by 50% to 75% . Hospital care with access to outpatient therapy that wraps the patient is a one-two punch that helps reduce emergency room utilization,” she says.
A key to the success of the Louisiana Behavioral Health joint venture between Ochsner LSU and Oceans Healthcare is shared governance, Archer says.
“One of the best practices we have in our association is a shared governance strategy. We make decisions together, not only financially but also clinically. We strive to be integrated in the approach we take. For example, we are in the same electronic medical record , so patients have a seamless experience We can pull data and experiences from previous times they’ve been at Ochsner LSU facilities With our governance structure, it’s a true partnership We have a shared governance board, with members of both partners. We make decisions together, whether they are leadership decisions, care decisions, or programs that we want to implement. We have a shared budget that we work on together, including capital expenditures,” he says.
Christopher Cheney is senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.