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By Monica E. Oss
Source: Trends In Behavioral Health: A Reference Guide On The U.S. Behavioral Health Financing & Delivery System

Conventional wisdom in the field has been that consumer-facing technology is not “appropriate” for consumers with complex needs—particularly consumers with mental or cognitive disabilities. This conventional wisdom has driven policy and practice.

But we’re seeing some changes in that thinking. Recent research shows that 96% of all health plans use telemental health services. And while only 41% of all health plans use eCBT, 21% using some type of online engagement tool, and 16% of all health plans use consumer-facing portals—among Medicaid health plans, where you will generally find the most complex consumers, adoption of these technologies is around 50% or higher, far above the adoption rates of these technologies in Medicare plans and sometimes surpassing adoption rates among commercial plans (see Trends In Behavioral Health: A Reference Guide On The U.S. Behavioral Health Financing & Delivery System).

These stats are just the beginning. On the ground, we’re seeing the development of innovative new programs and partnerships to expand the use of consumer-facing technologies across the care continuum for complex consumers. At our 2018 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat, Debra Smyers, Plan Product President of Centene’s Sunshine Health spoke of using more telemedicine and identifying provider organizations who are doing telemedicine in her presentation, Next Generation Models For Health Plan Behavioral Health Services. And, William Lopez, M.D., CPE, Senior Medical Director, Behavioral Health of Cigna Behavioral Health, in his keynote Key Issues Shaping The Market For Complex Consumers: The Health Plan Perspective On What Executives Need To Know To Succeed, discussed the Cigna plans use telemedicine for behavioral coordination of care and psychiatric consultation.

Source: Trends In Behavioral Health: A Reference Guide On The U.S. Behavioral Health Financing & Delivery System

We are seeing the morphing of a wide range of tech-enabled treatment—telehealth, remote monitoring, eCBT, wearables, and more—into the broad category of virtual care (see First Telehealth-Now Virtual Health). And, we’re seeing some significant movement in taking virtual health to the complex consumer market.

For example, in California in August, we saw approval for the Innovation Technology Suite (INN Tech Suite) project as part of five California county Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) plans, which seeks to use mobile devices and applications to increase access to mental health care and to support and to promote early detection of mental health symptoms, or even predict the onset of mental illness (see Five California Counties Approved To Launch Virtual Therapies Under Mental Health Service Act). The INN Tech Suite is comprised of two virtual health platforms—Mindstrong Health and 7 Cups of Tea (7 Cups). Mindstrong Health provides a digital phenotyping, artificial intelligence-enabled, telemedicine network for outpatient management of behavioral health disorders; 7 Cups is an on-demand emotional health and well-being service.

In Tennessee, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) is collaborating with six supportive living technology vendors to expand its “Enabling Technology” pilot project to include more individuals (see Tennessee DIDD Expands ‘Enabling Technology’ Supportive Living Pilot Project). The pilot—which includes supportive living technologies such as tele-caregiving, remote monitoring sensors, and mobile applications—is part of a larger DIDD initiative to create sustainable change within its system of reimbursement and service delivery to focus on employment, supportive living technology, and person-centered planning. And Idaho’s largest health system, St. Luke’s, is opening a “virtual hospital” to extend telehealth services to rural hospitals, doctor’s offices, and consumer in Idaho and eastern Oregon. St. Luke’s Virtual Care facility will offer e-ICU services, consults, and remote patient monitoring services (see St. Luke’s Virtual Care Center Will Bring Great Care Into More Settings).

Another eye-catching marker of growth came in the spring from MDLIVE, which announced that it had surpassed one million virtual health visits (see MDLIVE Surpasses Milestone of 1 Million Virtual Health Consultations). For some of our coverage of the expanded use of MDLIVE, see Beacon Health Options Adds MDLIVE Behavioral Health Professionals To Its Provider Network, Walgreens & Veterans Administration Create Care Coordination Partnership, and Making Telehealth Work-Reimbursement & Great Execution Required.

These are just a few of the developments in a virtual health market that has been predicted to reach $3.5 billion in revenue by 2022 (see Embracing Virtual Health Results In Improved Care). And this raises a strategic question for every health and human service organization—how do you incorporate “virtual” in your current service lines? And, can your team make that happen ahead of the competition? For more, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:

  1. Telehealth Gains Popularity, Telehealth Budgets Don’t
  2. Telehealth Billing – Easier Than You Think?
  3. Getting Ready For The Era Of Telehealth
  4. Telemental Health Is Booming
  5. Telehealth Is Remaking More Than Therapy
  6. For Telehealth, The ROI Is Where You Plan For It
  7. Moving To The Flip Side – Telehealth, Urgent Care & Medical Homes
  8. The On-Demand, Direct-To-Consumer Online Therapy Market – A Glimpse
  9. Employer Health Plans Pushing Telehealth Adoption One Step Closer To ‘Ubiquity’
  10. The On-The-Ground Reality Of Making Telehealth Work

Also, don’t miss our coverage next week at 2018 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute—follow us at @openmindscircle for live social media coverage of this year’s event. To join the discussion on Twitter, use this year’s official hashtag: #OMTechnology.

And, for even more, join OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Joseph P. Naughton-Travers on February 13, 2019 in Clearwater Beach, Florida for his 2019 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute executive seminar, “Making The Right Tech Investments For Your Organization: An Executive Seminar On Technology Budgeting & Planning.”

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