Access to Services is Growing

On December 31st we completed the first year of implementing a new benefit for individuals who are Medi-Cal beneficiaries and have mental health conditions that are determined to be more “moderate” than those living with a serious mental illness. Legislation passed in late 2013 delegated the responsibility for providing services to this population to the Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans, in San Mateo that is the Health Plan of San Mateo (HPSM).

Health Plans, with this new responsibility, needed to quickly figure out how to make these services available to their beneficiaries. In many, if not most counties, the Health Plans contracted out those responsibilities to private behavioral health companies. In San Mateo, because of our longstanding and close working relationship with HPSM, they decided to delegate the administration and delivery of these services to BHRS.

With the implementation of this benefit we are seeing a significant increase in access to services. Our Call Center handled almost 5,000 more calls than in the prior 12 months. A 38% increase.  More than 1,000 referrals to our network of providers were made in the first six months of last year which equalled the number of referrals made over the prior 18 month period. These numbers clearly demonstrate the need for mental health services within the population and that those in need are receiving the information to make contact for services.

As we continue to work on improving access to services there are some important challenges  we will need to work on this year including: responding in a timely manner to calls coming into the Call Center; reducing the length of time from the call to a first appointment; increasing the number of psychiatrists; ensuring that our network of providers can respond to the language diversity in the county; and making sure that providers are available throughout all regions of the county.

Thanks to the outstanding work from HPSM staff, BHRS Call Center and Administrative staff. We expect this upward trend in accessing mental health services to continue through this year….and that is a good thing!