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Digital behavioral health start-ups have scored $588M in funding during the COVID-19 pandemic and “virtual mental health” spiked at the end of 2020’s first quarter as people searched for alternatives to in-person behavioral health services. Digital technology is an emerging opportunity to address our burgeoning behavioral health needs and provider shortage.
Also in 2020, NCQA approved a set of adjustments to 40 HEDIS measures to accommodate telehealth. Eight are behavioral health measures:
- Antidepressant Medication Management.
- Follow-Up Care for Children Prescribed ADHD Medication.
- Follow-Up After Hospitalization for Mental Illness.
- Follow-Up After Emergency Department Visit for Mental Illness.
- Diabetes Screening for People With Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder Who Are Using Antipsychotic Medication.
- Cardiovascular Monitoring for People With Cardiovascular Disease and Schizophrenia.
- Diabetes Monitoring for People With Diabetes and Schizophrenia.
- Adherence to Antipsychotic Medications for Individuals With Schizophrenia.
Reports have demonstrated the effectiveness of digital health solutions for addressing gaps in behavioral health services, including cloud-based big data systems; artificial intelligence-based chatbots; online health communities; peer-to-peer channels; and telehealth/remote patient monitoring platforms. Some—big data systems and telehealth for remote consultations, for example—have been extensively applied to alleviate the pandemic’s impact on health.
We recognize that vulnerable communities and people experiencing behavioral health conditions face additional challenges such as social isolation and difficulty accessing treatment. Designing effective digital health care requires consideration of the wide range of patient needs, determined by the severity of behavioral health disorders and their cultural acceptance, social determinants of health and access to technology.
As care moves to the virtual setting, ongoing investment can create effective digital behavioral health products. We expect consumer demand to continue to grow. A body of evidence demonstrating strong consumer retention, patient satisfaction and improved health outcomes will shift patient engagement and guide payers and providers toward a virtual-first or combined virtual/in-person care model that is equitable, cost-effective and efficacious.
What are your thoughts? Share with us in the community forum.
- How is your organization using digital help to address behavioral health needs?
- How is your organization leveraging patient engagement data and considering other factors, such as social determinants of health and cultural acceptance, to facilitate patient-centered resources and close gaps in care?
- What essential product functionalities should be considered when exploring behavioral health technology platforms (i.e., mood and cognition screenings, customized behavioral and mental health care educational content, mindfulness and medication, telehealth visit enablement).
Vanessa Guzman,CEO,SmartRise Health
Vanessa Guzman is an expert in population health strategies, including patient and physician engagement strategies, clinical reporting, health IT and quality management models, and CEO at SmartRise Health. With almost 15 years of industry experience, she works closely with health systems, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), technology, and SDOH partners to collaborate in implementing data-driven tools, clinical infrastructures, and community partnerships to promote wellness and improve patient health outcomes.
Vanessa served as the Associate Vice President at the Montefiore Health System, a top-performing ACO in the country, overseeing physician partnerships, population health and quality improvement, and health information technology.