A Secondary-Primary Mental Health Integrated Care Model for Communities with Diverse Population and Complex Health Needs – a Case Study with Health Care Utilization Evaluation
Integrated care is expected to improve patient experience, patient outcomes and assist with the increasing demand on health services from those with long term conditions including mental disorder. Few studies have evaluated health care utilization as a consequence of increased integration of mental health care. This study considers the factors known to influence secondary health service utilization and investigated the impact of a locality based mental health integrated model of care (ILoC) providing specialist consultation and liaison advice to primary care, to support early diagnosis and treatment.
Using existing hospital databases, the study-cohort was identified (service users supported by ILoC, and then referred within 6 months to specialist mental health services (MHS) care between 2017– 2018) and compared on health services utilization with a matched-cohort (without ILoC support before referral to specialist services).
The length-of-care in the non-acute MHS was 71% shorter for the ILoC study cohort, and differences increased in the subgroup taking antidepressants. The ILoC study-cohort was less likely to be admitted to acute MHS on first referral post ILoC intervention and had a 25% lower relative risk of acute MHS admissions at any time in follow-up. There was no difference in the average MHS inpatient length-of-stay. The risk of general hospital acute inpatient admission was marginally higher in the ILoC study-cohort.
Conclusions: ILoC appears to shorten non-acute length-of-specialist-care and reduce acute mental health admission. The study provides a first step in understanding the clinical characteristics and specialist services health-care utilization of patients supported by an integrated mental care approach.