Hybrid, collaborative care will allow mental health to grow despite limited workforce, says exec

Mental healthcare is experiencing a provider shortage despite being prioritized more highly today than in years past. John Brewer, DNP, vice president of behavioral health at a top children's hospital, joined Becker's to discuss trends he's watching, including how innovation could help mitigate the workforce shortage.

Editor's note: This response was edited lightly for clarity and length. 

Question: How are you thinking about growth in the future?

Dr. John Brewer: I think that growth is going to be in the hybrid space from a care perspective. I also see the collaborative care model and other models continue to allow growth of mental health care access to happen even with a limited workforce. I also think that growth in the mental health space will be geared more towards early intervention and prevention and I hope that the mental health system will continue to evolve to a less reactionary space [and not] wait until a patient is in crisis before they receive mental health care.

Q: What are the top issues and trends you're following in healthcare today?

JB: In the mental health space a top issue that is getting my attention is inpatient psychiatric beds being closed in hospital systems due to staffing issues. I think that this is an issue that is continuing to stress the mental healthcare systems. There is already a poor access to care in most parts of the country and the closure of beds will most likely have long term negative impacts to a group of marginalized patients that are in serious need. I think this is also reflective of staffing challenges in the healthcare workplace and how stagnant reimbursement and increased regulatory cost has impacted inpatient psychiatric services.  

Q: What are you most excited about, and what makes you nervous?

JB: I am most excited about the increased attention to mental health and the amount of focus that is now being directed to decrease the taboo of receiving mental health care. I am most nervous about how the population of patients who access mental health care through purely Telehealth based companies will continue to navigate access to mental health care as pre pandemic regulations come back and enforcement of some of these regulations will limit the care that can be provided.  

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