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How Montefiore, Intermountain, and Atrium Health use technology to increase behavioral health access

October 30, 2018

    Behavioral health needs are highly prevalent, comorbid with other chronic conditions, and associated with increased clinical care and cost. Spending on behavioral health services is projected to reach roughly $239 billion by 2020—that's 5.5% of total health spend.

    Follow these 6 steps to integrated behavioral health program success

    While behavioral health and physical health care often work in siloes, health systems are increasingly investing in improved access to behavioral health services. Mental health screening and support in primary care are becoming increasingly prevalent. We've also noticed an increased interest and investment in IT-enabled behavioral health care to scale access.

    Increased funding for behavioral health data capture and virtual care

    In its 2018 Midyear Funding Review, Rock Health notes that behavioral health startups received more investment in H1 2018 than in any prior six-month period, with 15 companies receiving a cumulative $273 million in funding. There are various technologies available to help capture patient mental health data in near real time, and on a daily basis.

    Provider organizations are increasingly deploying technologies to engage patients in their own care, monitor response to treatment, and predict future needs. Virtual care, clinical referral and communication support, and self-management support are some of the major ways we've seen IT be deployed to facilitate improved behavioral health care. Here are some examples:

    Virtual care

    • Atrium Health established a centralized tele-mental health service unit that virtually links the health system's primary care offices and EDs with behavioral health experts. A pre/post-intervention analysis showed primary care patients experienced a decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms as well as avoidable hospitalizations, saving the system $78,000. Virtual access in the ED decreased ED length-of-stay.

    • The University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies created a virtual reality-based exposure therapy tool called Bravemind. It allows clinicians to control, document, and measure patient responses in immersive environments. Bravemind has been used to assess and treat post-traumatic stress disorder for military veterans.

    Clinician referral and communication support

    • Intermountain Healthcare recently launched Alluceo, an independent company that integrates mental and behavioral health care into primary care using a digital communication platform and a team-based care model. It enables a patient's care team to communicate remotely regarding a patient's care.

    • Similarly, Quartet Health, Lyra Health, and Ginger.io have created technology platforms to connect mental health and primary care providers, patients, and employers for more collaborative care. These companies use machine learning algorithms to match patients with mental health providers and can facilitate both virtual and in-person therapy sessions. Digital coaching and self-guided therapy through mobile apps is another component to these platforms.

    Self-management support

    • Valera Health developed an app allowing patients to self-monitor behavioral health symptoms, stay in touch with care managers and providers, and access educational resources. Within one year of their partnership, Montefiore saw promising results with improved symptoms and remission rates of internalizing disorders, and increased care manager contacts among participating patients.
    • myStrength is a mobile and web-based self-care platform vendor providing education and coping skill development tools for self-motivated patients with behavioral health needs. The platform uses machine learning algorithms to individualize the patient experience based on preferences. States and health systems across the country have seen improved health outcomes and reduced cost for enrolled beneficiaries.

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