For decades, behavioral health services have been delivered in facility-based settings, whether those be inpatient psychiatric hospitals or outpatient clinics. But in 2020, that changed.
The coronavirus forced telehealth into the mainstream, in turn making remote behavioral health care delivery commonplace. Nearly a year later, industry stakeholders agree there’s no putting the genie back into the bottle — and that tele-behavioral health care is likely here to stay.
But that’s not the only service delivery trend industry insiders predict for the year ahead: Private equity and venture capital leaders believe 2021 will see more behavioral health and home health partnership, with the two industries working together to provide home-based behavioral health care services.
Chris Booker, a partner at Frist Cressey Ventures, made that prediction late last year during a virtual event hosted by Home Health Care News, which is the sister publication of Behavioral Health Business.
“Home health is going to be incorporating a lot more with behavioral health,” Booker said during the December panel. “I think you’re gonna see a big merger between home health and behavioral health, keeping people out of high-cost settings [from a] pure economic standpoint.”
Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Frist Cressey Ventures is a VC firm that specializes in early and growth-stage health care technology and services. Home health and behavioral health are two areas in which it and other investors are currently especially interested in.
One reason for that is that both services are in high demand, Booker said.
“There’s a big need there,” he said. “And we’re starting to see a lot of delivery of behavioral health and home health in the home at the same time.”
Rich Tinsley, president of the M&A advisory firm Stoneridge Partners, agreed. He was also a speaker on the December panel hosted by HHCN.
Given the nationwide trend of deinstitutionalizing behavioral health care, he said increasing the number of home-based behavioral offerings through partnerships just make sense.
“Behavioral health is going to have to go [into the home somehow] because you don’t have caregivers outside those institutions that we decided 30 years ago weren’t the right place to take care of people with behavioral health [conditions],” Tinsley said. “That’s going to have to merge with home health, and it’s already started, but it’s gonna have to get bigger.”
Another reason experts predict collaboration between the two industries is because the behavioral health needs of the older populations, who typically receive home health care, are greater than ever. The coronavirus has led to heightened anxiety and social isolation for those groups, both of which can lead to physical health problems down the line.
At the same time, Medicare changes are making it easier for providers to be reimbursed for offering behavioral health care services to senior beneficiaries, which has not always been the case.
As such, the time is right for the behavioral health and home health industries to work together to address those problems.