The impact of behavioral health consultations on medical encounter duration in pediatric primary care: A retrospective match-controlled study.

Introduction: The disproportionate time required to effectively manage psychosocial concerns is a key barrier to advancing delivery of behavioral care by primary care providers. Improved time efficiency is one potential benefit of the integration of behavioral health consultants (BHCs) into pediatric care, but few studies have systematically studied this outcome. We examined the impact of embedded BHCs on duration of medical encounters in a pediatric primary care clinic. Method: We conducted a retrospective matched-pairs analysis of encounters involving behavioral consultations versus encounters for similar patients that did not include a consultation (N = 114) using electronic health record timestamp data. We examined both medical duration (i.e., medical provider services) and total duration (i.e., medical services + behavioral consultation). Results: Patient encounters involving behavioral consultation had a significantly longer (+11.23 min) total duration than matched controls, but significantly shorter (−11.67 min) medical duration. Discussion: The results indicate BHCs may improve primary care provider efficiency for patients with behavioral concerns, a notable finding given the impact of clinical time-constraints on important health care outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)