From 2012 to 2015, Sanford Health, a large health care system, integrated behavioral health services and chronic condition care management in some of its primary care practices in the Dakotas and rural Minnesota. Using difference-in-differences analyses for fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries attributed to 22 participating practices and 91 matched comparison practices, we found that the program increased the receipt of four recommended diabetes care processes by 8.6% (p=.048) and, by slowing the increase in emergency department (ED) visits, reduced them by 4.9% (p=.07) relative to the comparison group. However, the findings are mixed: the program did not affect hospital admissions, readmissions, or Medicare spending. In addition, the program increased admissions for ambulatory care–sensitive conditions by 13.6% (p=.07) relative to the comparison group. Sanford's program provides a concrete example of how to incorporate behavioral health services in primary care in underserved areas with some positive results on quality-of-care processes and ED utilization.


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pp. 702-720
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