About this Journal

Article Abstract

Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 2, Issue 3, 1999. Pages: 107-110

Published Online: 24 Dec 1999

Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

New research alliances in the era of managed care
William Goldman 1 *, Roland Sturm 2, Joyce McCulloch 1
1United Behavioral Health, 425 Market Street, 27th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-2426, USA
2RAND, 1700 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA

*Correspondence to William Goldman, MD Senior Vice-President for Behavioral Health Sciences, United Behavioral Health, 425 Market Street, 27th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-2426

Conference: Improving the condition of people with mental illness: the role of services research, September 1997 to September 1997. NIMH.

Funded by:

Background: The rise of managed behavioral health care in the United States was accompanied by reductions in costs, which has shifted the policy debate from concerns about rising costs to questions of universal access, mental health benefits at parity with medical benefits and quality of care. To meet these new challenges, managed care organizations, the purchasers of health care and academic services researchers must work together in new ways. Aims of the Study: This paper discusses collaborative efforts between a for-profit managed care firm, academia and purchasers of health care coverage to study parity for mental health and substance abuse and how this effort has become part of a research strategy to inform policy. Historical, strategic and methodological issues are presented. Methods: Case Study. Results: Although the benefits from cooperative research are substantial, there are severe hurdles. Managed care organizations often have data that could answer pressing policy questions, yet these data are rarely used by researchers because it is difficult to obtain access and because analyzing the data requires computing facilities and skills that are not common in health services research. In turn, managed care organizations can learn how to design and implement more informative data systems that eventually lead to more cost-effective care, but there often are more immediately pressing business considerations and sometimes resistance to outside scrutiny. Important features that made this cooperation successful include strong support from the senior management in the company, including complete access to their extensive databases, and established funding for a managed care research center by the National Institute of Mental Health. Conclusion: This paper illustrates the potential of collaborative research. New research challenges, such as the linkages between quality and cost-effectiveness in actual practice settings, can only be met successfully if we build alliances among payors, managed care companies and academic researchers. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Received: 20 August 1998; Accepted: 27 April 1999