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Top Five Behavioral Health Provider Predictions for 2023

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Sunwave Health Announces Top Five Behavioral Health Provider Predictions for 2023

DELRAY BEACH, FLA – December 6, 2022Sunwave Health, a leading provider of technology-driven treatment solutions for behavioral health providers, today released its industry predictions for 2023 to help providers stay ahead and prepare for the challenges the new year will bring.

As 2022 comes to a close, rapidly evolving external trends, graying populations, innovative care developments, among other factors, are bringing new possibilities and new risks, simultaneously. But perhaps more than any healthcare vertical, mental health treatment providers face 2023 filled with opportunities for transformation paired with fresh complications.

“Behavioral health must learn to change even in the face of pre-existing disadvantages compared to traditional healthcare practices,” said Richard Daley, CEO of Sunwave Health. “The way forward will require many providers to rethink current practices, find efficiencies, and digitally transform to do more with less.”

1. Staffing Shortages Will Cause Severe Care Disruption

According to a recent industry survey by Sunwave Health, 91% of behavioral health providers said they experience moderate to severe staffing shortages. Almost 75% say that this impacts patient care moderately to severely. The 2023 final Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) eased supervisory requirements for care delivered by a licensed professional counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist. However, increasing patient demands, competitive talent markets, and a shortage of practitioners will continue to plague mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) providers into 2023.

While not a silver bullet for staffing challenges, investment in the right tools and technologies represent one of the fastest paths to protecting margins, driving higher reimbursement rates, and effectively and quickly identifying areas of loss and opportunity across a provider’s ecosystem.

2. Outcomes and Accountability Will be More Critical

Regulatory changes and continued private equity investment will likely drive increased interest in outcomes tracking for mental health and SUD providers in 2023. These trends will push providers to accountability standards that many are unprepared to meet. Nearly a third of SUD and mental health providers surveyed manually track outcomes or use a homegrown solution, and less than 16% have an integrated data platform. The analytic obstacles created by a lack of incentives and support for technology adoption within the space have left many providers unprepared and unsupported to answer basic operational and clinical questions.

3. Health Equity Comes into Focus

2023 will see an expanded and enriched focus on health equity within mental health and SUD treatment. Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) drive up to 50% of county-level variation in health outcomes. Housing and transportation are significant in SUD treatment. Studies indicate housing and case management lower overall SUD treatment duration by 7.5 days, representing significant cost savings and improvement in care experience. As a result, state Medicaid programs are exploring and implementing strategies to address SDoH and drive health equity across populations, including SUD and mental health patients.

Behavioral health providers should take heed and consider implementations that take an integrative and holistic approach that brings health equity and SDoH into care methodologies to meet these evolving and higher standards of care.

4. Remote Care Is Here to Stay

This next year will likely see the codification of telehealth and a rise in remote and home-based care across all healthcare sectors.

While there is some ambiguity about the final state of telehealth following the public health emergency (PHE), there has been a significant movement to congeal aspects of telehealth policy that apply to SUD. In particular, the finalized 2023 PFS rule permanently extends the PHE allowance for opioid use disorder treatment programs to begin medication-assisted treatment through telehealth. Moreover, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is leading the call for private payers to embrace telehealth to expand SUD access and address barriers to care.

Additionally, remote patient monitoring continues to expand. A quarter of US adults will be treated with remote patient monitoring tools in 2023. And the payer community sees remote patient monitoring as a critical component of SUD care.

5. Elder Care Takes Center Stage and Brings Challenges

Coined the “gray tsunami,” approximately 10,000 people per day cross the Medicare eligible threshold. And by 2030, all boomers will be at least age 65. This increase in older patients requires adaptation for SUD providers to meet complex barriers to care and clinical requirements.

As patient populations mature and their needs grow in complexity, behavioral health practices require implementations that simplify processes, automate requirements, and bring efficiency to well-worn foundational operations to meet the demands and complications of this aging wave on the horizon.

2023: The Year of Digital Access

The coming year will challenge SUD and mental health providers. While staffing shortages, reimbursement challenges, and increasing demand sustain through 2023, these trends will likely push many to seek innovative solutions. The future of this kind of care hinges, in part, on a commitment and demand for digital access and solutions built for the provider and the patient, designed to enable health equity, reduce fragmentation, and scale high-value care quickly.

About Sunwave Health

Sunwave Health drives healthy results for behavioral health and SUD providers through a unified platform that eases documentation and answers clinical and operational questions that lead to better outcomes. We deliver client and referral tracking, electronic medical records, billing, patient engagement tools, and an advanced analytic engine to deliver immediate visibility into performance and risk. As a result, providers can better manage increased demand, improve clinical and non-clinical resource utilization, increase patient retention, and optimize reimbursement. Sunwave Health–driving healthy results.

Media Contact:
Doug Jon De Orchis
Scratch Marketing + Media for Sunwave Health


Are you ready for what 2023 will bring? Access the full 2023 Behavioral Health Predictions guide.