Executives Predict: In 2024, Behavioral Health Care Access, Measurement and Care Coordination Are the Trends to Watch

author image

By Rachel Jenkins, Senior Marketing Strategist

Sarah Reilly

“The fusion of physical and mental health services is poised to create a more comprehensive and cohesive health care experience.”

Sarah Reilly – SVP of Product & Strategy

In 2023, the mental health crisis in the U.S. became a dominating topic of national discussion and led to a greater understanding of the challenges in connecting individuals with behavioral health resources. In the year ahead, Lucet foresees an even greater industry focus on expanding access to the behavioral health care Americans require, more emphasis on measurement, and greater care coordination between payers and providers. In 2024, we also anticipate:  

Eradication of Ghost Networks Once and for All

“The pending Requiring Enhanced & Accurate Lists of (REAL) Health Providers Act is set to cast a spotlight on the persistent problem of ghost networks — inaccurate and outdated provider directories and referral workflows that lead members to a dead end. This development not only signifies a heightened focus on rectifying these discrepancies, but also will bring about a shift in how we approach behavioral health care delivery – specifically around network management. Health plans will need to focus not only on maintaining accuracy in their listed networks, but also ensuring that those providers are able to offer availability to patients.” 

Shana Hoffman, President & CEO 

Recognition of the Power and Impact of Choice 

“Addressing the accessibility challenge of behavioral health care goes beyond mere connectivity. Health plans will require a nuanced approach that considers individual needs and preferences. In 2024, the industry can expect an increased emphasis on connecting people to resources, providers and technology that align with their unique requirements. Tailoring care to factors such as modality (in-person vs. virtual treatment) and provider specialties and characteristics (gender, race, sexual identity) will become paramount. This personalized approach has proven effective in fostering trusted care team relationships, ultimately enhancing patient engagement and treatment adherence.” 

Bernard DiCasimirro, DO, Chief Medical Officer 

Physical and Mental Health Integration 

“A key trend shaping behavioral health care has been the integration of physical and mental health services. In the coming year primary care providers will be under increased pressure to conduct more behavioral health screenings and ensure interventions align with current standards of care and value-based initiatives. This opens avenues for technology-enabled behavioral health organizations to support primary care practices by facilitating access needs and providing consultation services. This fusion of physical and mental health services is poised to create a more comprehensive and cohesive health care experience.” 

Sarah Reilly, SVP of Product & Strategy 

Support for Mental Health Parity 

“As the upcoming election looms, the administration is expected to finalize the proposed rule regarding mental health parity. This initiative will likely increase compliance costs for health plans and employer groups. However, the stringent nature of the proposed rule may lead to disruptions, as meeting its requirements poses a challenge that no health plan has yet surmounted. The repercussions of these changes will undoubtedly reshape the landscape of behavioral health coverage in the coming year.” 

Carlos Lindo, SVP of Legal & Compliance 

Mainstream Recognition that Mental Health Care Is Health Care 

“From a market perspective, employers and health plans are increasingly recognizing the importance of addressing behavioral health needs. In 2024, we can expect a growing demand for comprehensive solutions that seamlessly integrate medical and behavioral health services for employees and members. This holistic approach acknowledges the interconnected nature of mental and physical well-being, reflecting a more nuanced understanding of the factors influencing overall health.” 

Amy Kazmierczak, Chief People Officer 

A Shift in Health Care Delivery Models 

“The broader health care landscape is undergoing a fundamental shift, driven by digital solutions, mega-mergers and a surge in private equity investment in providers. Large health systems are facing challenges as various entities chip away at their business. The trend toward delivering health care at home is likely to persist, necessitating integrated solutions that span diverse settings to meet patients where they are and provide seamless care.” 
Shana Hoffman, President & CEO 

Accountability for Virtual Care Delivery 

“The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a significant shift in behavioral health care delivery, with virtual services gaining prominence due to the need for safe treatment options. In 2024, we anticipate a reckoning for companies that took advantage of the relaxed regulations during the state of emergency. Regulators are now tightening controls, with the Department of Justice expected to act against companies that exploited the Public Health Emergency to the detriment of members. This marks a critical phase of accountability and a return to a more regulated and secure behavioral health landscape.” 
Carlos Lindo, SVP of Legal & Compliance 

Tech Integration into Existing Health Systems 

“From a technology perspective, the need for seamless integration into existing systems is paramount. Whether digital solutions are offered by insurance providers or independent tech platforms, the ability to integrate into practice management suites and electronic medical records (EMR) is crucial. This integration will ensure a streamlined and efficient workflow for health care providers, facilitating the adoption of new technologies without disrupting established practices.” 
Brian Stenson, Chief Information Officer 

Navigating 2024 trends will require our industry to take a holistic approach to address the intricacies of mental health while embracing the technological advancements shaping the future of health care delivery. As we progress further into the new year, let us continue to lay the groundwork for a more connected, responsive and patient-centric behavioral health ecosystem. 

Rachel Jenkins is the senior marketing strategist at Lucet, The Behavioral Health Optimization Company. Contributions made by the executive leadership team.

See Lucet's Navigate & Connect in Action. Watch Video.

The behavioral healthcare industry is constantly evolving. Subscribe to our newsletter today.