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State helps fund Christiana Care mental health pilot

Delaware Public Media

Christiana Care Health System is getting help from the state to start a new behavioral health pilot.

The Delaware Health Care Commission is using funds from a federal grant to assist health care providers moving away from the fee-for-service payment system towards value-based care.

Christiana Care is first to receive some of the funds. The state’s largest health system is getting $62,168 to launch a pilot program targeting Medicaid members with chronic behavioral health conditions.

The pilot will embed a psychiatric nurse practitioner into a primary care office at Christiana Care’s Wilmington hospital.

Dr. Diane Bohner is the medical director of Community Team and Special Populations for Christiana Care Health System’s Carelink CareNow. She says the new pilot program will bring intensive psychiatric treatment together with primary care and social work.

“Our goal is to bring together these three types of services into one setting to serve these populations in a more efficient and easier pathway for them,” said Bohner.

Bohner adds Medicaid patients with acute behavioral health conditioners are among the top 1%-2% costliest patients to insurers.

The Christiana Care Value Institute will monitor the pilot program for cost-effectiveness as well as positive health outcomes. Bohner says she expects the pilot will both benefit its target population and cut costs.

“It keeps individuals out of the emergency room and acute care which is far more expensive than outpatient care,” said Bohner. “So by giving them better-coordinated care over the long run, it should have lower costs.”

Seven new hires have been approved for the program and it is set to roll out in March.

The program’s focus is currently on AmeriHealth Caritas patients, but Bohner says Christiana Care is in conversations with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware as well.

The Health Care Commission has received 44 other grant applications and plans to announce more awards soon.

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