Accountable Care Organizations, which used to be the wave of the future, are the here and now. As groups of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers come together to coordinate care, it is essential they include behavioral health providers in the mix. According to a recent National Comorbidity Survey, 17 percent of the adult population had comorbid mental and medical conditions within a 12-month period. Patients with comorbidities require a comprehensive treatment plan to truly bend the cost curve. For example, statistics show a person with diabetes will cost an average of $9,000 per year to treat. However If that person also has a diagnosis of a behavioral health and/or a substance use disorder, that number skyrockets to more than $36,000 per year. ACOs focused on the whole person will be much better positioned to achieve the needed outcomes and cost reductions required within ACO populations.
After delivering a fascinating view on the potential applications of big data and analytics in healthcare at the 2013 Knowledge Network event, Jeff Hammerbacher, who was responsible for conceiving, building and leading the data team at Facebook, and is now leading a team partnered with Mt. Sinai School of Medicine on a project designed to apply the power of Big Data to predicting and understanding the process and treatment of disease, was asked a simple question: What do you think is the biggest opportunity to apply big data in healthcare right now? His reply: Understanding what is currently happening across the healthcare ecosystem would be a good place to start. For a pioneering disruptive thinker like Mr. Hammerbacher to offer such a simple actionable item as his first thought, tells you we have much work to do to harness the opportunity in front of us to make better use of data.