Today when we speak about the American health care system, everyone talks about how we must “bend the cost curve” downward. Ironically, behavioral health leaders are also chanting this mantra, even though this approach in reality will surely compromise the principles and practices of behavioral health.
The national health care debate may be playing more to emotion (i.e., increasing access) than to reason (i.e., improving delivery). The focus should not be provider cost-reduction. It should be patient/consumer care value-maximization. Cost-reduction inevitably leads to reduced availability and quality. Value maximization leads to better care over a correct continuum, which ultimately reduces costs even more and better. We should not be be bending the cost curve down; we should be bending the value curve up.
The concept of value is now being much discussed in the world of general healthcare. It is time to begin discussing it in the world of behavioral healthcare. PsychOdyssey is developing its own ideas and resources about this important subject. We are pleased to share some of them here, to help all of us to imagine a mental health system based on value, not just outcomes.