More community-based health systems are leveraging strategic partnerships to help navigate the fluctuating and complex healthcare landscape, especially those within the behavioral health space. Research from JAMA Network Open supports this trend, stating local community hospitals that partner with larger health systems are linked to improved mortality outcomes for conditions such as acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke, and pneumonia, when compared to facilities that remained independent.1,2 As COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the nation, further amplifying an already growing behavioral health crisis, individuals experiencing mental and behavioral health issues could also benefit from these strategic partnership opportunities.

In addition to improved patient access and care, strategic behavioral health partnerships can help address other main challenges within the healthcare system. A 2021 Modern Healthcare report states that partnership "enables rural hospitals to improve quality of care through access to needed financial, clinical and technological resources, which is important to enhancing rural health and reducing urban-rural disparities in quality."3

Below are three key areas local hospitals can further optimize with the help of a trusted behavioral health expert.

  1. Workforce development

    It can be difficult for hospitals to find the specialized expertise to help ensure team members obtain the needed training and education to effectively treat patients with behavioral health disorders. Not only is an experienced behavioral health partner able to aid in current staff training, but they also have the resources to effectively identify highly-trained behavioral health experts on a local and national level to further address the needs of the local community. Employing these experts also benefits the entire hospital, as service line collaboration can aid in early identification and treatment of behavioral health needs across all care settings.4

  2. Patient access

    In addition to enhancing a hospital’s workforce, having an experienced partner in the behavioral health space can help expand patient access to those that need it most. This will also help relieve overcrowding in the Emergency Department (ED) from patients in need of behavioral health services. Relieving this burden on EDs creates capacity to treat patients outside of the behavioral health space and a more streamlined care approach for both the ED and hospital overall.

  3. Behavioral health program optimization

    In the past, patients typically interacted with the health system only when they were sick or injured. However, a recent Deloitte article predicts that even more health spend will be devoted to sustaining well-being and preventing illness by 2040, while less will be tied to assessing conditions and treating illness.5 To effectively prepare for this continued increase in preventative health services, especially around mental health, hospitals are seeking opportunities to efficiently and effectively integrate this service line.

    However, running a successful behavioral health program is complex and requires specialized expertise that differs from the rest of a hospital’s core competencies. Having a partner with focused behavioral health expertise can benefit hospitals by eliminating the burden of developing and optimizing a successful behavioral health program.

By enhancing these key areas, health systems can help improve patient outcomes, reduce costs and create a healthier community.

To learn how partnership with Kindred Behavioral Health can help prepare your hospital for the growing behavioral health patient population in your local community, visit


  1. H. Joanna Jiang, P. D. (2021, September 20). Quality of care before and after mergers and acquisitions of rural hospitals. JAMA Network Open. Retrieved September 27, 2021, from
  2. Person. (2021, September 22). Mergers of rural hospitals may improve outcomes, a new study finds. Advisory Board. Retrieved September 27, 2021, from
  3. Johnson, S. R. (2021, September 20). Consolidation boosted mortality rates in rural hospitals, study finds. Modern Healthcare. Retrieved September 27, 2021, from
  4. N. (2016, September 19). Improving Access to Effective Care for People Who Have Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: A Vital Direction for Health and Health Care. Retrieved 2021, from
  5. Forces of change. (2019, March). Retrieved March 10, 2021, from
By Kindred Behavioral Health