Banner University Health Plans Remove Barriers to Integrated Behavioral Health Tap Healthbi as Tech Partner

Published: September 24, 2019

Phoenix, Arizona, September 24, 2019 – After hosting a series of community conversations about the integration of physical and behavioral health services in Arizona, Banner–University Health Plans (BUHP), a division of Banner Health, has heeded the impassioned feedback and developed its groundbreaking Banner Navigation Accelerator model.

Powered by CareEmpower® care coordination technology from HealthBI®, the company that simplifies and scales value-based care at the provider practice level, the Banner Navigation Accelerator will dramatically streamline the process for health plan members to receive comprehensive behavioral health and physical health services.

Using the Banner Navigation Accelerator, providers across the Banner–University Health Plans network see an integrated view of members’ physical and mental health history, medication history, and even social determinants of health, right at the point of care. Providers can then act on the member’s needs within minutes—from prescribing the right medication to referring members to appropriate services. This includes referring to substance abuse services, with appropriate member consent in place, in minutes or less.

“The Banner Navigation Accelerator is exactly what the name implies—a model that speeds up and streamlines the path to needed behavioral and physical health services while providing linkages to community resources. Based on HealthBI’s care coordination technology, it really is a first-of-its-kind shared platform that gives providers in different practices a full and current picture of a member’s comprehensive health status,” said Sandra Stein, MD, medical director for Complete Care, Banner–University Health Plans.

Listening and acting on community needs

The Banner Navigation Accelerator is an output of the profoundly compelling narratives of people impacted by behavioral health issues, who participated in a series of conversations hosted by Banner.

First responders talked about taking people experiencing a behavioral health event to the emergency department—or worse, to jail—because of lack of information about the person’s providers, prescriptions or other important health background details. As they further explained, access to just a few pieces of additional information would help first responders support more members by providing options other than the justice system.

Providers described the persistent challenges in obtaining comprehensive medical records from other providers, which made it difficult to apply the right diagnoses, safely prescribe medications and devise effective plans of care.

The most heartbreaking stories were directly about the people who struggled personally with mental health issues.

“One of the most affecting stories for me personally came from a distraught mother, whose child was experiencing acute behavioral health issues. It took this mother weeks to schedule an appointment with a provider, only to ultimately discover it was the wrong provider. I left that meeting knowing we had to change this deeply challenged system,” said Kathleen Oestreich, chief executive officer, Banner–University Health Plans.

True care coordination for vulnerable populations

Powered by HealthBI’s CareEmpower care coordination technology, the Banner Navigation Accelerator tool extracts, aggregates and normalizes data from claims; Arizona’s health information exchange (HealthCurrent); provider-developed care plans; and other data sources. This in turn creates a single longitudinal record of behavioral and physical health that includes:

  • Provider encounter history—giving both behavioral and physical health providers insight into past diagnoses, the full care a member is receiving, and when care was last provided.
  • Medication history—essential for prescribing medications that won’t counteract or duplicate existing prescriptions.
  • Lab history—important for preventing duplicate orders for expensive tests.
  • Hospital admission/discharge and transfer alerts—to assure that members receive prompt follow-up care that will prevent readmission.

“A large percentage of health care happens in more than one provider site, particularly for members with behavioral health and physical health comorbidities complicated by substance use disorders. To validate diagnoses, you need an understanding of what’s going on physically. To prescribe psychotropic medications and treat substance use disorders, it’s absolutely essential to know what’s been prescribed by the physical health care provider. All these answers can now be found right within the Banner Navigation Accelerator,” noted Stein.

Clearing the path for addiction recovery

Providers now will be able to rapidly connect members struggling with substance abuse to appropriate resources for help and recovery; another pressing need for behavioral health populations who are vulnerable to self-medicating.

Together, BUHP and HealthBI have designed a streamlined consent workflow and privacy rules into the Banner Navigation Accelerator, and a visibility model to enable appropriate sharing of behavioral health and substance use comorbidities in compliance with federal 42 CFR Part 2 patient record regulations.

“One provider informed me that a system like Banner Navigation Accelerator could have kept one of his patients out of the hospital after he was unable to prescribe the right medications and initiate interventions in time to avert a crisis,” Stein said.

Providers welcome long overdue changes

The Banner Navigation Accelerator is set to be accessible to BUHP providers on September 30. Already network providers are praising the new model.

Kyle Lininger, director of integrated care at Intermountain Centers said, “Given the extraordinary physical and behavioral health challenges faced by people with autism, I’m probably even more excited than most about a new shared platform for integrating health care.”

He continued, “Previously, we had to rely on patients’ parents to give us information about what was going on physically in the home. In the Banner Navigation Accelerator, we have an integrated chart, including emergency department visits and other provider encounters. We can even access social determinants of health information to understand what’s going on at home that impacts treatment.”

Dr. Arthur Chou, chief medical director at Horizon Health & Wellness, also is impressed with the new tool. “It’s very easy to navigate and view labs, visits with other providers, and other patient history, and I really like the simplified referral process,” he said.

The Banner Navigation Accelerator is built on HealthBI’s CareEmpower care coordination technology that equips providers with the functionality and support needed to practice value-based and integrated health care. The platform is deployed across close to 70,000 clinical sites in the country, supporting providers in seven different Medicaid managed health plans in Arizona alone.
“As a national company with deep roots in the local community, we are honored to play a role in Banner–University Health Plans’ bold reversal of what has been a decades-long problem; a badly fragmented health care system. We look forward to working closely with the Banner team to vastly improve the medical and behavioral outcomes of members in our community,” concluded Claire Zimmerman, vice president of product at HealthBI.

Infographic available: Members of the media are welcome to publish or refer to HealthBI’s infographic “Making the Case for Integrating Mental and Physical Health Care” in their coverage of this story. Download the PDF here: or the JPG here:

About Banner–University Health Plan

Banner–University Health Plan (BUHP) is a managed care organization and part of Banner Health (Banner). As the largest employer and Medicaid provider in Arizona, Banner has more than 30 years of experience in Arizona’s health care and labor markets. As a Banner division, BUHP is the only locally owned plan focused exclusively in Arizona and is a recognized Medicaid managed care leader. In 1985, BUHP began as an early Medicaid contractor and has a history of successful operations in Medicaid and Medicare. BUHP owns and operates: Banner–University Family Care (BUFC/ACC), an AHCCCS Complete Care plan; Banner–University Family Care (BUFC/ALTCS), an AHCCCS Long Term Care plan; and Banner–University Care Advantage (BUCA), a Medicare Advantage Dual Special Needs Plan (D-SNP). BUHP fosters a member-centric culture, is an active community partner, and is on a mission to make health care easier so life can be better. Check BUHP out at and Like on

About HealthBI

HealthBI was founded to unify fragmented health care systems and help care teams succeed in an increasingly outcomes-driven world. Since 2012, our care coordination technology has been deployed by the country’s largest payers to support practices and the community in improving the continuity of care and optimizing value-based performance across more than 20 million Medicaid, Medicare and Commercial lives, including some of the most complex populations in the nation.

HealthBI is a division of Equality Health, a Phoenix-based care delivery system that deploys HealthBI’s flagship CareEmpower solution to enable a fully integrated, culturally competent, value-based performance model designed to improve outcomes for diverse populations. Learn more at and follow HealthBI on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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