Money Matters

The dollars and cents of mental & behavioral home health

After nearly two years of staying at and close to home, Americans’ have had ample time to try new brands and channels, finding in-home alternatives to out-of-home activities like work (according to a recent Gallup poll, 91% of workers in the U.S. working at least some of their hours remotely are hoping their ability to work at home persists), schooling, meal and grocery delivery options, entertainment and much, much more.

In addition, the pandemic expanded consumers’ horizons on the ability to experience healthcare at home, something that was growing pre-pandemic, and now with restrictions lifting, has certainly picked up speed among a wider population than traditionally served in the home. At Sage Intacct, we’re talking to healthcare organizations every day, and are seeing home care expand into a wealth of new areas like medical meal deliveries, urgent care, laboratory testing and more – and for patients of all ages and backgrounds, not just those that are the sickest.

According to a report by McKinsey & Company on trends in Care at Home, “there is an estimated $265 billion worth of care services […] that could shift from traditional facilities to the home by 2025.” Further, “…when it comes to healthcare, many consumers would prefer options that allow them to remain out of a hospital or facility. To meet that demand, healthcare systems are re-envisioning how Care at Home ecosystems may evolve.”2

One area where we have seen tremendous interest and growth for at-home care is mental and behavioral health via telemedicine and other digital means. With provider offices forced to close and/or offer limited in-person services, and the need for mental health services growing exponentially as a result of the pandemic, the expansion of telemedicine became necessary for many to access not only regular healthcare, but much-needed counseling.

While the mental and behavioral health industry still has a lot of issues to overcome with clinician shortages and low reimbursement rates, consumers that are now much more familiar with digital communication apps and tools due to the pandemic, combined with COVID flexibilities designed to expand telehealth in new specialty areas made access to mental and behavioral health services much more accessible, and importantly, comfortable for consumers to participate in.

In another study, McKinsey found that “…many consumers may prefer virtual healthcare for mental- and behavioral-healthcare appointments, with 47 percent of consumers reporting that they experienced their most recent appointments virtually and 25 percent reporting that they experienced their most recent appointments by phone.3

This in turn, has spurred a groundswell of investment in the space. Rock Health, a seed investment fund in the healthcare space, estimated that $3.1 billion was invested in mental health ventures in the first three quarters of 2021, with significant growth seen in later-stage companies who’s products and services can meet the urgent demand of the market. And the tangible results are staggering, with between 10,000 and 20,000 mental health apps available in the market today, according to estimates by the American Phycological Association.

So what does all of this mean for healthcare CFOs?

Whether you are steeped in the mental or behavioral health space, home health, or from a completely different side of the healthcare market, there are lessons to be learned by these trends. Combining clinical, financial, statistical and regulatory data in easy to view, analyze, and interpret dashboards and reports paints a more accurate picture of what opportunities may exist at your organization.

This also allows you to gain insight into big, strategic questions, such as:

  • Does partnering with a mental health clinician offer additional revenue opportunities for your practice?
  • Will increased access to mental healthcare improve patient outcomes for patients and have the ability to lower costs for your clinicians?
  • Are there services you can offer to patients at home that will free-up office time to see sicker patients and at the same time offer more convenience to patients, thereby increasing patient satisfaction?
  • What is the true cost of care delivered at the organization?

And, with so many investment dollars flowing in to healthcare as a whole, technology-enabled healthcare, home health, and mental/behavioral health, questions including: how do you capture a slice of that pie? Are you attractive to a private equity or investment firm, and if not, how do you get there?

As a healthcare finance leader, it is important to recognize that consumer desires around health are shifting dramatically and this requires that the finance team stay ahead. In our E-book “Mastering KPIs, Dashboards & Reports” you can learn how to combine and leverage data to capitalize on new market opportunities in new and growing areas of healthcare for organizational success.