Trilliant Health published a new report that’s pretty close to required reading for anyone working in behavioral healthcare – Trends Shaping the Health Economy: Behavioral Health.
The report does a thorough job wrapping numbers around the biggest trend in the space: patient demand is outpacing the supply of providers.
- Behavioral health volumes were 18.1% above pre-pandemic levels by Q2 2022, driven by a combination of stress-induced disorders and a 45X increase in telehealth utilization. Behavioral health visits accounted for 63.8% of total telehealth visits in Q2 2022.
- Since 2019, the conditions that saw the sharpest rise in visit volumes were eating disorders (up 52.6%), anxiety (47.9%), substance-use disorders (27.4%), depression (24.4%), and bipolar disorder (12.2%).
- Unlike many other areas of healthcare, behavioral health doesn’t appear to be a small group of high utilizers driving up volumes. In 2021, two-thirds of patients diagnosed with a mental health condition saw a provider five times or fewer.
Although telehealth was initially viewed as a way to expand access to therapy, the data paints a different picture of its actual impact. More prescriptions, treatments shifting away from behavioral health providers, and lackluster follow-up care.
- The share of patients with a prescription for antidepressants increased 15% from 2017 to 2021, while patients ages 22-44 saw Adderall prescriptions spike 58.2%.
- PCPs now prescribe the greatest share of behavioral health medications (42.3%), and NPs and PAs have also begun to account for a large share of prescribing volume (22%). Behavioral health providers account for just over a third of total prescribing volume.
- Most patients initially diagnosed by their PCP with schizophrenia (70.2%) or bipolar disorder (62.8%) received subsequent treatment from a behavioral health provider, but the same was true for only 30.3% of ADHD patients.
Trilliant’s data provides a strong foundation to start asking the right questions about the direction behavioral healthcare is heading.
- Should high demand shift care settings for behavioral healthcare?
- Should primary care be the first line of defense?
- If PCPs are delivering this care, is more training needed to manage these conditions?
- Is this the proper balance between therapy and medication?
While Trilliant’s report isn’t setting out to answer these questions, it’s a valuable tool for those that are.