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Care coordination and behavioral health: A Q&A with Vertava Health’s Jordan Cruz

CarePort recently partnered with Vertava Health, a leading national behavioral healthcare system for substance use disorders and mental health. We sat down with Jordan Cruz, Lead Patient Care Navigator at Vertava Health, to learn more about this partnership, Vertava Health’s offerings, and why care coordination is critical to behavioral health care.

First, can you tell us more about Vertava Health?

Vertava Health’s inpatient facilities offer medically-assisted drug and alcohol detox programs and residential addiction treatment, as well as treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. We have treatment centers in Mississippi, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Texas.

What benefits has Vertava Health, and its patients, experienced since partnering with CarePort?

Partnering with CarePort, we can expand patient and provider access to high-quality treatment for and substance use disorders and mental health. Hospital discharge planners and case managers near Vertava Health’s inpatient facilities can send a referral through CarePort Care Management, and Vertava Health can then receive, review, and respond to the referral within CarePort Referral Management.

Through this partnership, Vertava Health can reply to a referral within minutes, helping ensure there are no gaps in a patient’s care. This level of care continuity is not only critical to our mission, but also to ensuring better patient outcomes.

From your perspective, what impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on behavioral health?

Our partnership with CarePort actually comes at a critical time, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have had negative implications on many people’s mental health, and have created new barriers for those already suffering from substance use disorders and mental illness. The numbers are staggering. There are multiple studies indicating that nearly half of Americans have reported an increase in substance use during the pandemic, and the American Medical Association reported in December that 40 states had seen an increase in opioid-related deaths. There has been a marked increase in reports of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. The pandemic took an already awful epidemic and made it, unfortunately, much worse. Through this partnership, we can provide CarePort’s hospital customers with increased access to our substance use disorder and mental health services – which are critically needed at this time.

What care coordination challenges do we face when caring for behavioral health patients?  

To achieve better, more coordinated patient care across the continuum, both a patient’s physical health and behavioral health need to be a part of the care journey. Because there may be multiple providers as part of a patient’s healthcare team, one of the challenges is the use of multiple EHR systems that do not have the capabilities to communicate information across systems. A centralized database that multiple providers can access to obtain and share medical records so that vital information can be reviewed streamlines care coordination, ensuring the provider(s) can recommend the best and appropriate care for the patient.

Care continuity is incredibly important for this patient population. Why?  

Through integration of services and a comprehensive overview of the patient’s care and needs, care continuity reduces the risk of misdiagnosis through timely and accurate information, giving the patient the best chance of receiving effective care.

Within the population requiring substance use disorder or mental health support, many have burned bridges or have lost touch with their support system – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we have seen more people working or staying at home, socializing less, and isolating, there has been an increase in people who are suffering from addiction or mental health. Together, Vertava Health and CarePort coordinate care to provide the necessary care for patients when they need it most.

Contact CarePort to learn more about this partnership, or visit Vertava Health’s website for more information.

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