Behavioral Health Outpatient Capacity Analysis Finds Milwaukee County Challenges Linked Both to Supply and Coordination Issues

Date: 10/2015

As part of an ongoing analysis of the behavioral health care delivery system in Milwaukee County, HSRI and its partners the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Public Policy Forum recently issued findings from an analysis of the county’s outpatient capacity. As described in a report released on October 27, our research finds that Milwaukee County is challenged by issues of fragmentation among outpatient providers, lack of communication between providers and hospital discharge specialists, a shortage of psychiatrists, and insufficient Medicaid reimbursement rates that are negatively impacting provider supply.

The report issues a series of recommendations, including the following:

  • Having the County's Behavioral Health Division (BHD) – which plans to outsource its remaining inpatient and emergency care – expand its role in coordinating outpatient services by identifying capacity among existing outpatient providers, communicating available capacity to discharge specialists from area hospitals, and coordinating increased use of health information technology.
  • Formalizing and enhancing the role of Federally Qualified Health Centers in integrating behavioral health care with comprehensive patient-centered medical homes for low-income individuals.
  • Expanding use of telepsychiatry –which has been found to be effective in treating individuals with a variety of mental health conditions – to increase access to psychiatric care.
  • Increasing Medicaid rates for behavioral health outpatient services and engaging Medicaid managed care organizations in addressing gaps in outpatient care.
  • Addressing the fragmentation and discontinuity of behavioral health services by establishing comprehensive and well‑integrated data systems that will provide for overall monitoring of system performance and identification of opportunities for improvement.

The report also caught the attention of the local press. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a recent article that highlights some of the report's key findings.  

You can download the full report by clicking on the download link below.

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