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Two Treatment Journeys: Seeking Care During a Mental Health Crisis

Two Treatment Journeys Web

In a world with significant barriers to behavioral healthcare services, patients experiencing a crisis often end up in the emergency department (ED). But few EDs have the resources to provide behavioral healthcare that is safe and effective for their patients and staff, or access to community resources that support successful after-visit planning. This results in a significant operational and financial burden on health systems.

Health systems must change the way they approach providing behavioral health services by investing in innovative strategies for meeting patients’ physical and behavioral health needs. When successfully executed, these investments will result in increased access, improved patient outcomes, cost savings, and better experiences for patients and providers.

Below is the tale of two health systems that offer different levels of patient access to behavioral health services. Tom, a male in his 30s with a history of manic depression, is experiencing a mental health crisis. Let’s follow two treatment journeys to see how the experiences at different health systems compare.

Which of these two health system examples does your organization most closely resemble?

How you manage your behavioral health population matters for your patients, staff, and community. Understanding your demand and resources, and building connections to enhance your system’s ability to provide the right care to the right patient at the right time will help to alleviate financial and throughput issues related to providing behavioral healthcare.

Can you answer the following questions for your healthcare organization?

  • Do you know who your patients are and what behavioral health services they need?
  • Does your organization provide integrated behavioral health services across the entire care continuum?
  • Do your providers have the support, resources, and community connections to safely and efficiently care for patients with behavioral health conditions?
  • Do you know how to access community post-acute care and residential recovery services for your patients?
  • Is your organization known in the community for providing caring, comprehensive, and safe behavioral healthcare services?

If you’re unable to answer any of these questions, and you are experiencing increased demand for behavioral health services in your ED, a deep dive into your organization’s behavioral health strategy is necessary in order to consider innovative solutions that will increase access, improve outcomes, and increase operational and financial sustainability. If ignored, health systems risk EDs crowded with patients who cannot be discharged, frustrated staff who lack the resources needed to provide care, and skyrocketing costs.


ECG works with organizations nationwide.

We help providers navigate the challenges of creating and implementing behavioral health strategies. For more information on how ECG can support health systems and behavioral health providers, contact us.

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