APA's support of the first World Congress Leadership Summit on Behavioral
Health and Wellness paid off as more than 150 people representing major
corporations and officials from the public sector gathered in Baltimore in
early May to exchange ideas about how to provide quality mental health care to
employees. All agreed that the current system of managing care is rapidly
evolving into a new kind of health care
Psychiatrist Stephen Heidel, M.D., M.B.A. (center), takes a break with
Paul Heck of DuPont and Tara Wooldridge, L.C.S.W., of Delta Airlines after
their presentation on innovative employee assistance programs.
When employers such as IBM, DuPont, JPMorgan Chase, Delta, 3M, Coca-Cola
Co., Johnson & Johnson, and Daimler/Chrysler talked about the rising costs
of health care and their efforts to contain costs, APA listened. When
employers discussed their solutions, APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr.,
M.D., noted that psychiatrists must be involved in the solution. That theme
resonated throughout the leadership summit.
The World Congress is the producer of the World Congress Leadership Summit
Series and other health-related conferences. World Congress events convene
CEOs and senior executives from the health care industry with leaders in other
related areas to explore innovative approaches to improving health care costs
and quality, according to the World Congress Web site.
As the conference began, Ronald E. Bachman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers
reminded participants, "This is not about numbers; it's about
people." He provided a perfect segue for incoming APA President Steven
Sharfstein, M.D., to say, "APA is a natural ally of employers in their
efforts to improve the health care of all."
Thomas Carli, M.D., of the Depression Center Workplace Initiatives at the
University of Michigan Health System continued on that theme when he said that
physicians must be included as "equal partners" in any discussion
of future health care systems.
Then Alan Axelson, M.D., of InterCare Psychiatric Services added, "If
we leave physicians out of the discussions, new systems will be doomed to fail
in the same way that managed care has failed."
Attendees readily accepted the fact that mental disorders have a negative
impact on their medical costs and their company's productivity in terms of
absenteeism and presenteeism. Employers are currently focusing on two
solutions—integration of all health care services and outcomes
Employers are trying various ways to integrate behavioral health services
into medical services that in turn are integrated with their pharmacy,
disability, employee assistance, wellness, and benefits programs. Juan Prieto
of IBM stated, "Mental health care at IBM is simply a part of health
Companies hope that integrating mental health services will help them
answer such questions as, Do medical costs go down if we spend more on
behavioral health services? But integration has another important
benefit—it serves employees better.
Dan Conti, Ph.D., of JPMorgan Chase (formerly BankOne) emphasized that the
more things are "dis-integrated," the more difficult it is for
employees to know how to access care.
David K. Nace, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer at McKesson
Health Solutions, said, "Diseases are integrated," which for him
begged the question, "Why aren't health care services?"
The tricky part to integrating health care services is merging the many
databases, which are often kept in separate "silos" in various
departments or with outside vendors or both. Johnson & Johnson is one of
the few companies that have successfully merged all aspects of employee health
care into its worldwide Health and Safety Division (see Mental
HealthWorks, first quarter 2005, at<www.workplacementalhealth.org>).
Second, employers are asking behavioral health care plans for outcomes
studies. Employers made it clear that outcomes studies are not synonymous with"
consumer satisfaction surveys." Instead, they talked about
quality and evidence-based behavioral medicine.
Nearly all employers expressed frustration at their inability to find out
what behavioral health services they are paying for and what they are getting
for their dollars. According to Conti, his company's ability to calculate the
amount it spends on mental health has become increasingly difficult since the
1980s. "In fact," he noted, "60 percent of employers don't
even know their absentee rates."
"What are the best buys in mental health?," asked Irvin L.
(Sam) Muszynski, J.D., director of APA's Office of Healthcare Systems and
Financing, as he opened the conference. Muszynski said he hopes that APA and
employers will work together to find the answers.
APA was a primary supporter of the leadership summit, which was
co-sponsored by the Wall Street Journal. According to Norman Clemens,
M.D., chair of the Committee on APA/Business Relations, "This conference
was the result of my attending a World Congress conference on health care last
year where no one mentioned mental health during the entire
Clemens immediately spoke to conference organizers, and they agreed to hold
a leadership summit on behavioral health and wellness this year. Based on this
year's success, the World Congress is committed to doing another one in
Other APA members presenting at the leadership summit were Stephen Heidel,
M.D., M.B.A., Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., and Lloyd Sederer, M.D.
Clemens told Psychiatric News, "It is extremely important
that as the health care system evolves, the individual doctor/patient
relationship be preserved and not overwhelmed by systems. I think we got our
More information about APA's Business Relations Initiative is
available by contacting Clare Miller by phone at (703) 907-8673 or by e-mail
The APA newsletterMental HealthWorksis posted at<www.workplacementalhealth.org>.
APA members may receive it free by mail by calling Miller. ▪