Background: In their current configuration, traditional reactive consultation-liaison services see a small percentage of the general-hospital patients who could benefit from their care. These services are poorly reimbursed and bring limited value in terms of clinical improvement and reduction in health-service use.
Method: The authors examine models of cross-disciplinary, integrated health services that have been shown to promote health and lower cost in medically-complex patients, those with complicated admixtures of physical, mental, social, and health-system difficulties.
Conclusion: Psychiatrists who specialize in the treatment of medically-complex patients must now consider a transition from traditional consultation to proactive, value-added programs and bill for services from medical, rather than behavioral, insurance dollars, since the majority of health-enhancement and cost-savings from these programs occur in the medical sector. The authors provide the clinical and financial arguments for such program-creation and the steps that can be taken as psychiatrists for medically-complex patients move to the next generation of interdisciplinary service.