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New Jersey collaborative aims to fix behavioral health landscape

April 16, 2015

Five New Jersey health systems, the state hospital association and a coalition of providers are teaming up to evaluate the current behavioral health landscape and provide innovative recommendations in a year-long project. Participants found access to mental health and substance abuse services is one of the top five health issues facing the region in a recent needs assessment.

Goals will include engaging key stakeholders, including patients, families and providers to identify challenges and explore ways to improve the system. The South Jersey Behavioral Health Innovations Collaborative will begin gathering data from the five participating hospitals on how patients flow through their network of providers, analyze the data and then apply evidence-based and best practices along with innovative system changes that will better serve individuals with behavioral health conditions.

“The provision of quality and timely behavioral health services has historically proven challenging across the country,” Russ Micoli, vice president of Ambulatory Services, Kennedy Health and chairman of the collaborative tells Behavioral Healthcare. “Initially the collaborative’s work will be to engage a broad range of stakeholders and focus on system transformation in the southern New Jersey region.  Just as we expect that we will benefit from innovations and creative strategies that have been implemented in other parts of the country, we are hopeful that our work will contribute to the ongoing nationwide discussion about insuring that those struggling with mental health and addiction issues receive the care they need and deserve.”

In 2013, 39 percent of the inpatient admissions from southern New Jersey residents had a primary or secondary diagnosis of behavioral health. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of ED (emergency department) visits by southern New Jersey residents whose primary diagnosis was a behavioral health condition increased by 20 percent, and on average, more than 100 people a day from southern New Jersey come to EDs with behavioral health as their primary concern.

Participants include:

The New Jersey Hospital Association;

The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers;

Cooper University Health Care;

Inspira Health Network;

Kennedy Health;

Lourdes Health System; and


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