Groups Release Workplace Behavioral Service Guide

December 12, 2005 ( - Employers who offer behavioral counseling benefits need to standardize delivery of those services and programs to make sure all patients receive effective, high quality services.

A news release from the National Business Group on Health said this was among the findings of a year-long recent study it helped conduct designed to find ways to improve clinical outcomes of the behavioral treatments.

The announcement said that the guide resulting from the study includes 12 key findings and 18 specific recommendations for employers interested in improving their behavioral service lineups.

Among the other conclusions offered were to develop enhanced programs and measures of continuous quality improvement that promote quality and accuracy in the practice of prescribing psychotropic drugs, and improve the efficacy of disease management programs for chronic medical conditions by including behavioral health screening and treatment.

align=”left”>The study also recommended to:

  • document diagnosis upon initiation of treatment
  • screen for depression and other common behavioral health conditions among individuals with chronic medical illnesses.
  • monitor patient progress with standardized evidence-based instruments. Reimburse patient monitoring as a lab test.
  • use the collaborative care model to address the needs of patients with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders who are receiving treatment in primary care.
  • coordinate care upon referral from primary care to specialty behavioral health care.
The news release said that the guide’s recommendations help employers examine their current behavioral health benefits and services and develop contracting requirements to guide their selection of future vendors including:
  • health plans
  • managed health care organizations
  • managed behavioral health care organizations
  • disability managers
  • pharmacy benefit managers
  • employee assistance programs.

“Employers, like all purchasers, can use their leverage to improve the design, financing and delivery of behavioral health care in the US,” Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, said in a statement. “All health services, including behavioral health care, are fragmented, uncoordinated, duplicative, and highly uneven in terms of effectiveness, access and quality, but behavioral health benefits have particularly complicated problems and challenges that need to be addressed. These recommendations will help employers and employees receive much higher quality and value for their substantial investment in behavioral health benefits.”

The guide is here .