An Evaluation of a Care Coaching and Provider Referral Intervention for Behavioral Health Needs

Hilary E. D. Placzek, Bridget Darby, Robert M. Kaplan, Jill Glassman, Marielle Garcia-Huynh, and Peter Bearse
Peer-Reviewed Article
December 2022


A health plan-administered telehealth care coaching intervention led to long-term cost savings as well as increased behavioral health service use for adults with behavioral health needs and a history of high utilization.


Telehealth interventions to treat behavioral health conditions may help address the care gap for people with behavioral health conditions who are not receiving treatment. This study examines the outcomes of health plan members enrolled in a one-year telehealth intervention with behavioral health care coaching and provider referrals, applying evidence-based coaching standards. The program was run by Ontrak, which contracts with health plans. The study compared cost and utilization outcomes from program participants with a comparison group of members with behavioral health diagnoses and high historic costs.


Program participants had statistically significant reductions in all-cause medical costs and inpatient admissions, as well as increased all-cause office visits and services for behavioral health conditions. Notably, these cost savings lasted for two years post-enrollment in the program.


As health care organizations move to value-based arrangements, this study demonstrates how integrating behavioral health care can contribute to long-term savings. The studied intervention – as implemented for health plan members and delivered telephonically over a year duration – shows how these savings can be sustained over multiple years.

Posted to The Playbook on