Kootenai Health and MultiCare Health System announced plans to work together on select important behavioral health initiatives. The goal is to create additional access to high-quality behavioral health care services.
Access to behavioral health services has long been an issue in the Inland Northwest. About 28 percent of all patients with ongoing or complex medical conditions also suffer from depression, anxiety, or other behavioral health concerns. With a limited number of providers working to meet this overwhelming need, regional health care organizations are ready to take a new approach to address this old problem.
“As demand for behavioral health services increases, we have to innovate to meet our patients’ needs. We see significant benefits to working with other organizations to do this,” said Joan Simon, chief nursing officer at Kootenai Health. “Kootenai Health has a very strong inpatient behavioral health program, and MultiCare has unique strengths in outpatient settings. You need both to provide a seamless continuum of care. By working together, we can leverage both organizations’ strengths for the benefit of all patients.”
Both organizations will be equal partners in this alliance with each bringing unique strengths to the partnership. This is not a merger or acquisition, and both organizations will remain independent. Kootenai Health has proven success in its work with the Northern Idaho Crisis Center, a free, regional resource designed to help people experiencing a mental health crisis, drug, or alcohol problems. MultiCare, in collaboration with the University of Washington, has developed a robust program that places behavioral health services in primary care settings such as family medicine physicians’ offices. Each of these are areas in which both organizations want to do more work.
“MultiCare’s mission calls us to partner with organizations to better meet the needs of the communities we serve,” said Tim Holmes, president, MultiCare Behavioral Health Network. “We are excited to work collaboratively with Kootenai Health to create more opportunities for the patients and their families to receive the care they need in the most convenient and cost-effective ways possible.”
In addition to working together to improve behavioral health services, last year Kootenai Health entered into an agreement to transition its electronic health record to Epic, provisioned through MultiCare. The agreement will provide significant cost savings to Kootenai Health and make it easier for care providers across the region to share information that will improve patient care.