• Home
  • Blog
  • 5 Bold Predictions That Could Shape the Future of Behavioral Health Services

5 Bold Predictions That Could Shape the Future of Behavioral Health Services

The future of behavioral health services is quickly changing. My five bold predictions for 2023 and beyond will focus on:

  1. The partnership between hospital program leaders and high-quality Behavioral health partners.
  2. How outsourced behavioral health experts can be a secret weapon for smaller community hospitals without a behavioral health program.
  3. Stronger focus on the mental health intake process
  4. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) diagnosis and treatment planning.
  5. Predictions on the future of telehealth in behavioral health services.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

The partnership between behavioral health hospital program leaders and third-party service providers

The partnership between behavioral health hospital program leaders and high-quality evidence-based care entities is quickly becoming the key to emergency department throughput and improved patient outcomes. As hospitals look to provide the highest quality of care, this collaboration is essential for driving effective mental health services. These partnerships can also help bridge gaps in care between primary and specialty practices – providing better support, continuity of care, and access to emergency services.

Outsourced behavioral health service providers provide complementary expertise to existing hospital programs. By utilizing their deeper experience in patient engagement, evidenced-based care, billing and coding, staff safety best practices, training on the intake process, and engaging the right outpatient resources after patient discharge – these collaborations can be a true asset to any hospital.

The focus is shifting from just providing access, to providing access to high quality care. Programs that implement evidence-based practice models will see improvements in their patient’s health outcomes and reduced total health costs. While most providers are trained in evidenced-based models like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), there is much work to be done to implement these models across health systems in a sustainable way that drives improvement.

Moreover, this complementary collaboration can help hospitals reduce their financial burden associated with behavioral health services. Using external innovators hospitals can help lessen the administrative strain of staying up to date on ever-changing regulations and procedures that are required for effective mental health billing.

Look for big, community leaders in the behavioral health arena to seek out consulting and training from expert innovators.

What is behavioral health consulting?

How outsourced behavioral health experts can be a secret weapon for smaller community hospitals without a behavioral health program

Smaller community hospitals without a behavioral health program can benefit greatly from leveraging third party service providers. Not only are these collaborations essential for improved access to care, but they can also help reduce substance abuse rates in the community with improved access to mental health services.

These collaborative partnerships open up new opportunities that didn’t exist before for improved mental health access. By helping smaller hospitals optimize their facilities for behavioral health and allowing them to provide a greater breadth of services, these collaborations can help improve the hospital’s bottom line and operating margins.

Smaller community hospitals without behavioral health programs that turn to expert partners will increase their capabilities, improve patient outcomes, and protect their bottom line.

Stronger Focus on Mental Health Intake Process

A strong mental health intake process is essential for any successful behavioral health program. It should include a patient-centered approach so that the patient feels heard and understood, capture referral information for smoother hospital operations, and capture initial details for customized treatment planning.

Having an updated and uniform mental health intake form used by all hospital staff is imperative for a successful mental health intake process. It should also look to capture as much patient information as possible, including any past treatments and diagnosis history, before the patient is admitted.

Mental health intake processes can often require a lot of resources and can be complex to navigate without an expert’s help. Third-party service providers are great resources for hospitals looking to ensure their mental health intake process is up-to-date with industry standards and optimized for patient care.

Health systems with a strong intake move patients through the process quicker which improves patient outcomes, provides larger access to care within the community, and makes the system more money.

If your hospital or agency needs a new intake form – here’s the one we use: Horizon Health Mental Health Intake Form

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) diagnosis and treatment planning

Mental health researchers will begin to explore the utility of AI for improved diagnostic clarity,  and increased objectivity, identifying illness earlier, and individualizing care. MH may see initial / increased adoption of Natural Language Processing and or supervised machine learning to aid in these efforts.

In addition, data collected through AI-powered data collection tools can be used to more accurately measure outcomes and determine the effectiveness of various treatments. This data can then be used to inform treatment planning and improve patient care in future scenarios.

Data analysis will be faster and more comprehensive than ever. Mental health research, risk assessment, and clinical decision making will all be informed with the help of predictive analytics. Patient histories built using AI mining of social media posts or smartphone searches are a concrete example of data sources that do not exist in a lot of models today but may be more prevalent in the future.

As a starting point, we will see more health systems implementing Measurement-based care – the practice of using standardized measurements to assess behavioral health patients to inform treatment decisions and track progress. This will be a key capability needed as we see the shift to value-based care models.

Overall, AI data collection and analysis tools have the potential to revolutionize the way mental health professionals diagnose patients and plan treatments.

The future of telehealth in behavioral health services

Telehealth has already made strides to improve access to mental health services for patients in need. By removing the barrier of physical distance, telehealth allows for remote sessions with providers and allows patients more control over their mental health care.

In the future, telehealth could be used to provide personalized treatment plans based on an individual’s data, allowing providers to better diagnose and treat patients. Telehealth could also be used to measure patient progress in real-time, allowing doctors to adjust treatment plans based on the most current information.

Telehealth also holds promise in providing care for rural areas that may not have access to traditional mental health services. By using telehealth technology, providers can offer mental health care to patients regardless of their location, allowing for more equitable access to quality care.

Telehealth will continue to revolutionize the way we provide mental health services, ensuring that all patients have access to quality care no matter where they are located.


The rest of the 2020s will see massive changes in the behavioral health arena as demand for care will continue to grow and will require further innovation. Mental health and substance use disorders continue to be a focus for health systems, payors, and employers, it’s time to develop a new ecosystem of care focused on providing high-quality, cost-effective care that improves health – across the care continuum from mental wellness to acute care. Many health systems do not have the resources or the expertise and will need to collaborate with key experts to build new hospitals or enhance existing programs with a focus on clinical, operational, financial, and analytical results.

Buckle up! It’s time for Behavioral Health to innovate.

Let’s Get to Work, Together

Contact us to learn more about how Horizon Health can help you start a behavioral health program or take an existing program to new heights.