Some long-term acute care (LTAC) hospitals have elevated their ability to treat behavioral health conditions amid the COVID-19 emergency, according to a recent report from ATI Advisory, a D.C.-based advisory services firm focused on transforming care delivery for frail older adults and their families.
“I think you’re kind of seeing investment in infrastructure overall,” Conner Esworthy, an advisor at ATI Advisory, told Behavioral Health Business. “That’s infrastructure in terms of … property, plant and equipment. … That’s what’s really underlying a lot of the investment in behavioral health overall, and I think we’re seeing that trend continuing to grow.”
The report says that the pandemic has highlighted opportunities for LTACs to contribute to a stronger public health strategy going forward in part by providing integrated care, addressing patients’ physical and behavioral health conditions.
“I think that this has been something that’s been on the come [up], and that COVID-19 has brought it to the forefront, if you will, and … made it a higher priority for payers, policymakers, etc.,” Esworthy said.
However, ATI Advisory stopped short of suggesting that LTACs investing in behavioral health could reduce the burden on behavioral health providers themselves, who are in short supply relative to the number of people in need of behavioral health treatment.
“I think it’s way too soon to try to draw that conclusion,” Tumlinson said. “There’s a huge demand for behavioral health services. … It’s going to become part of the toolkit that everyone has to have.”