• Thirteen Mental Health and Addiction Treatment organizations unite resources
  • Improving quality of care for residents in seven rural Northern New York counties
  • Contracting to provide value and integrate behavioral health and physical health

The winds of change are blowing in Northern New York.  These changes are the first wave with true potential to overcome the most pressing challenges faced by healthcare providers in rural communities.

Thirteen leading mental health and addiction treatment providers across seven rural Northern New York counties have teamed up to create Northwinds Integrated Health Network IPA, Inc.  The group originally came together in 2017 as part of a Behavioral Health Care Collaborative (BHCC) through the New York State Office for Mental Health and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to prepare behavioral health providers for Value Based Payment (VBP) reform.   

As a result of that early collaboration, came the formation of an Independent Practice Association (IPA), which is designed to improve health outcomes in the community through better information sharing and coordination of services on a local and regional level.  This affiliation through the IPA also facilitates contracting with Managed Care Organizations (MCO) and other entities. 

The goal of Value Based Payment is to transform the healthcare payment system so it rewards quality of care instead of the volume of services provided.  Northwindswill achieve this transformation by improving the coordination and delivery of behavioral health services, in addition to the integration of primary care and hospital providers.  

“This exciting new organization builds on a history of collaborating to deliver high quality healthcare to residents in our region,” said James Button, Executive Director of Northwinds.  “We call it the Rural Advantage, and the state is once again looking to the North Country to lead the way with innovative models.”

Under the current payment system, access to behavioral health and addiction treatment services is limited and disjointed.  These problems are particularly acute in rural areas of New York and across the nation, a situation that has resulted in hardship and suffering for those communities. 

Northwindswill give our partners a strong foundation to contract with MCOs and other payers and providers,” according to Board President, Mark Lukens. “These organizations recognize the important role our services play in improving the quality of care and reducing costs – especially for people and communities with the greatest need.  The new IPA will transform the healthcare payment and delivery system and welcomes other providers that share their vision.”

 “These are lofty goals, and we recognize the path ahead will have challenges,” said Mr. Button. “However, there is ample evidence that shows these services are the key to piecing together the puzzle of high quality, affordable care for the people of the North Country.”

Northwinds Integrated Health Network IPA, Inc. is an independent practice organization supporting mental health, substance abuse and social determinants of health providers with a shared commitment to improving the health and lives of our communities. 

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