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The time has come to create real solutions to the behavioral health challenges facing Idaho. The facts drive a compelling story for change.

  • Death by suicide: Idaho’s suicide rate is almost 50 percent higher than the national average.
  • Geography: While much of the state is classified as rural or frontier, many resources (crisis centers,.) are located in larger communities with limited access outside of these hubs.
  • Workforce shortages: The entire state of Idaho is designated as a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area. For example, there are approximately 75 practicing psychiatrists in Idaho, or around 5 psychiatrists per 100,000 residents[1].
  • Transitions of care: As individuals transition between services or levels of care, there is little support for families in navigating those transitions successfully, including care coordination.
  • Youth. Children and Youth services are lacking with many youth receiving inpatient care out of state with few options for treatment while transitioning them home.
  • Crisis response system: There is no standard process or unified system offering care traffic control and ensuring a minimum standard of response. The existing crisis centers cannot meet the total needs of the state.
  • Stigma: Because anonymity is difficult to maintain in rural areas, stigma is associated with asking for, and receiving, help.
  • Substance use disorder (SUD): SUD rates continue to soar; more than 14 percent of those aged 18-25 report a substance dependence.

Expansive specialty solutions combined with local knowledge

The Idaho Behavioral Health Collaborative recognizes that health care is local. The Collaborative combines national expertise with local knowledge. Beacon Health Options, a founding partner, brings the strength, expertise and best practices of a leading national behavioral health leader. Our local partners, include Blue Cross Idaho (BCI), BPA Health, and Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (IDSPH) complete that expertise with trusted relationships, local decision-making and flexibility. The four organizations have a combined 154 years of expertise, with almost 120 in in the state of Idaho, serving individuals with behavioral health conditions ranging from mild-to-moderate to chronic and complex.

  • Beacon Health Options brings the strength, expertise and best practices of one of the nation’s leading behavioral health service organizations
  • Blue Cross of Idaho has strong relationships with behavioral health providers coupled with its strong community presence and local grassroots partnerships throughout Idaho
  • BPA Health, Idaho’s leading behavioral health administrator, completes that expertise with trusted relationships, local decision-making and flexibility.
  • Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for residents of Idaho.

We created the partnership to be the next Managed Behavioral Health Organization for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to meet the behavioral health needs of Idahoans. Once selected as the state’s behavioral health partner our goal, much as it has been wherever our founding partners operate, is  to improve lives, and our path to getting there is two-fold:

  1. Address the behavioral health challenges that affect Idaho, such as poor access to care, lack of coordination of care, rising costs and a lack of focus in driving quality and innovation.
  2.  We foster strong community collaborations, member and family involvement, improved individual health, transparency, and innovation.

Idaho Behavioral Health Collaborative partners include (click on a logo to learn more)

Beacon Health Options Logo
BPA Health Logo
ISPH Logo

Focus on individual health to improve community health

Once selected as the Idaho Behavioral Health Plan administrator, the Idaho Behavioral Health Collaborative will create, side-by-side with our partners, providers, members, families and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, a behavioral health plan that meets the needs of all Idaho communities. Data provides the necessary insights to craft that plan, serving populations at both the community and individual levels. Through data, we craft personalized solutions that support the right care for an individual’s mental health and well-being. Members become more engaged in care when they experience a plan unique to them. It’s personal, makes sense, and it works. Their total health improves, and they’re more satisfied with the experience.

Individual lives improve. Communities improve. And providers fulfill their mission of restoring health.

In turn, population-level data provides insight on challenges unique to a community. That way, we can develop community-specific solutions to ensure Idahoans—children and adults – get the care they need, when they need it and where they are.

Expanding access in rural areas

The need for a robust behavioral health system in the state of Idaho has never been stronger. Only 24.3 percent[2] of the need for behavioral health services in Idaho is met. That is why the Idaho Behavioral Health Collaborative believes the system needs more innovation and flexibility in how services are delivered. Alternative modalities, including telehealth, should become more of an option and less of an alternative. We need to rethink who can provide certain types of services and where they can be accessed. Finally, we believe in building provider capacity with other interested stakeholders, such as commercial payers.  

Solving Substance Use Disorders

Our substance use disorder (SUD) programs provide higher rates of access to care and greater levels of specialization than other models, delivering better outcomes for members and reducing total cost of care.

Together we deliver customized behavioral health solutions for and across government entities. In fact one of our founding partners, BPA, works with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho Department of Corrections, Idaho Supreme Court and the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections to connect their respective clients to substance use disorder treatment providers.  

Our clinical expertise is particularly valuable in light of the opioid epidemic that continues to spread across Idaho. Promoting medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is at the heart of our comprehensive opioid management solution. Research shows that MOUD, when combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, helps to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths and increase social functioning and retention in treatment.[3] Therefore, connecting people to that treatment and ensuring they stay connected are critical to sustained recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD).

Our opioid management solution also addresses system shortfalls that create barriers to accessing evidence-based care. On a national level, our partners collaborate with providers to address those barriers and ultimately improve health by:

  • Offering value-based payment models to expand our specialty MOUD network, improve network performance, and reward improved MOUD access and adherence
  • Providing field-based clinical, quality, and technical assistance to support the network
  • Helping providers improve transitions of care from inpatient settings to outpatient care, inclusive of evidence-based treatment, such as MOUD

Nationally, one of our founding partners, Beacon Health Options, trains and educates prescribers on MOUD through Project ECHO, a tele-mentoring model that links specialists with community-based clinicians in rural and underserved areas through virtual clinics.

The Collaborative, through our founding partner Beacon Health Options, is also a member of the Shatterproof Substance Use Disorder Treatment Taskforce that developed the groundbreaking, evidence-based National Principles of Care to improve treatment. We are helping that organization to fund, develop, and promote a rating system of addiction programs nationwide.

Prevention

Many factors outside of healthcare, often referred to as social drivers of health (SDoH), impact mental

health and wellbeing.  Idahoans experience many of these risk factors, such as lack of transportation, food insecurity, unemployment, homelessness, and stress.  By supporting mental health promotion and primary prevention the Collaborative can support ID BH Plan members in recognition of signs of stress, depression, problematic substance use and link members to treatment, when needed, all while connecting members to community resources and supports to address SDoH.

Crisis Response System

The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has done the initial work in evaluating the current Crisis Response System and identifying best practices already in place as well as gaps and opportunities. The Idaho Behavioral Health Collaborative will take that next step in providing “crisis care traffic control” helping member’s access care in the moment of a crisis, deploying mobile crisis teams as needed and offering care coordination throughout to assure members receive the care they need to avoid future crises.

Behavioral Health/Physical Health Integration

The opportunity to integrate physical and mental health services is tremendous. It is extremely beneficial to individuals and the healthcare system for integration to happen, for instance, 31% of people with diabetes have depression or anxiety, yet only 5% are treated for it. Those with depression have 2-4.5x higher medical costs that those without depression.  The statistics are even more powerful for asthma and other chronic conditions.

Due to our multiple touch points across the continuum of care, the Idaho Behavioral Health Collaborative is in a unique position to drive integration in specialty care as well as primary care settings.

Successful integration calls for all practitioners, including behavioral health and primary care, to work collaboratively. We look for shared accountability among all involved parties—payers, physical and mental health providers, and broader system stakeholders. Behavioral health—as a significant driver of total health care costs—cannot get lost in the mix.

It has been estimated that $38 billion to $68 billion[4] can be saved annually through effective integration of physical and behavioral health services. To put these savings in perspective the total national expenditures for mental health and substance use disorders is approximately $240 billion

Youth services

Idaho has recognized the need to build a robust continuum of care for children and youth. Through the YES Program many additional supports will be available to some of the ID BH Plan members. However, the work is not done. The Collaborative will partner with children, youth, families and caregivers alongside our partners with DHW, to identify additional needed services across the continuum. By increasing options for care in Idaho communities and decreasing the number of children leaving the state for residential care, we can create clear pathways in care across the continuum.


[1] https://www.e-psychiatry.com/pro/telepsychiatry_idaho.php
[2] https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/
[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/effective-treatments-opioid-addiction
[4] Milliman-Report-Economic-Impact-Integrated-Implications-Psychiatry.pdf