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Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network

Summary 
  • Need: To address the lack of mental healthcare options for rural veterans.
  • Intervention: A telebehavioral health hub network was created to connect community mental health centers to the VA Medical Center.
  • Results: To date, 2,071 IVBHN appointments have been made, saving veterans time and money.

Description

Indiana is home to more than 418,000 veterans and supplies the 4th largest deployment of Army Guard soldiers in the United States. Indiana ranks 4th in the nation in National Guard member suicides, but ranks 20th in the amount of federal dollars received for veteran services.

The Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network (IVBHN) provides mental healthcare services to Indiana veterans who are otherwise unable to receive VA assistance in rural areas. IVBHN was formed by the Affiliated Service Providers of Indiana Network (ASPIN), a nonprofit behavioral health network made up of 7 rural community mental health centers and 3 addiction providers. It offers clinical care through 50 offices in the state and behavioral health integration through the work of its community health workers program.

Indiana Veterans Logo

IVBHN’s mission is to develop veteran cultural competence among affiliated providers. Through a matrix of services, IVBHN cares for both insured and uninsured veterans by placing teleconferencing units at 8 rural community mental health centers. This allows veterans to receive care in a timely manner without having to leave their home communities. These units allow veterans to access VA clinical providers who are familiar with military mental health issues. IVBHN was the first partnership in the nation to occur between the VA and a private provider.

This program has partnerships with multiple organizations, including:

IVBHN service area map

IVBHN was originally funded by a 2011-2014 Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Health Network Development grant. It is now sustained with funds from monthly provider fees that are contracted on a five-year basis.

With the implementation of telehealth services, the behavioral health network had hoped the number of uninsured veteran consumers would decrease, but it has instead remained constant. To address this dilemma, the network applied for and was awarded a HRSA Benefits Counseling grant to hire navigators to assist veterans and their families in health insurance enrollment. To date, ASPIN navigators have outreached to over 9,100 veterans and helped over 1,752 veterans and their families acquire health insurance.

Services offered

IVBHN provides veterans with:

  • Access to trained VA mental and behavioral health therapists
  • Diagnosis and treatment of issues surrounding military healthcare and rural healthcare

Clinicians are provided with:

  • Training on military culture and behavioral health issues that occur after deployment
  • Guidelines on how to achieve a military-friendly designation

In order to access IVBHN's services, veterans must be eligible for VA benefits and be scheduled by their VA clinicians.

Results

Over the 3-year FORHP grant period, the training for clinical providers was effective in the following ways:

  • 256 providers were directly trained via live webinars
  • 115 providers have taken online archived trainings via the IVBHN Learning Management System
  • 6 organizations applied for, received, and maintained Military Ready designations, which provide service to 29 of the 92 counties in Indiana

Each year, this program helps hundreds of veterans during 2,590 appointments:

  • June 2012-May 2013: 95 appointments, 3 locations
  • June 2013-May 2014: 248 appointments, 8 locations
  • June 2014-May 2015: 597 appointments, 8 locations
  • June 2015-May 2016: 681 appointments, 8 locations
  • June 2016-May 2017: 507 appointments, 8 locations
  • June 2017-March 2018: 462 appointments, 8 locations

At the close of the grant period (April 20, 2014), these telebehavioral health units had helped veterans avoid driving to the VA office in Indianapolis to receive care. Because of this, veterans saved more than 704 hours of drive time and $19,834 in cost based on the federal mileage reimbursement rate.

The success of this model led the VA to use similar telehealth units to provide mental services in other states. Since its inception, IVBHN has been honored as a national best practice by Veterans Integrated Services Region 11 and has received nomination as a best practice with the Veterans Administration.

Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network Kathy Cook
IVBHN CEO Kathy Cook stands by a teleconferencing unit that is used in rural community mental health centers.

Publications that give further detail about IVBHN:

The ASPIN Network's Community Health Worker Program is also featured as one of RHIhub's Rural Health Models & Innovations.

Barriers

The main challenges surrounding this program have been:

  • Wireless connectivity with the VA for telehealth stations
  • Long site approval process
  • IT security issues
  • Aging equipment
  • VA staff turnover

Replication

To make this model the most helpful, communities should:

  • Develop relationship with their local VA Office
  • Ensure similar strategic goals with affiliated partners
  • Make sure hired clinicians understand military culture and military health issues
  • Have patience with government bureaucracy which tends to be slow
  • Seek out funding in addition to VA funding for initial planning and implementation
  • Maintain regular meetings with providers and the VA to ensure a seamless operation
  • Conduct regular access studies to the remote sites to ensure policies are being followed

Contact Information

Kathy Cook, CEO/President
ASPIN
Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network (IVBHN)
317.471.1890
kcook@aspin.org

Topics
Behavioral health
Health workforce education and training
Mental health
Telehealth
Veterans

States served
Indiana

Date added
April 24, 2015

Date updated or reviewed
April 18, 2018


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.