There are more mental health and substance use point solutions than ever, so how are health plans, employers, and, most importantly, patients to know which solution they should use to forge a path to meaningful behavioral health outcomes? We brought together health plans, providers, investors, and more at HLTH 2023 to learn how the healthcare ecosystem can better bridge the supply-demand conundrum in behavioral health while prioritizing affordability, access, and seamless patient experiences.
Andrew Cylkowski, Chief Commercial Officer at Lucet discussed breakthroughs in technology and AI, revamped care delivery models, and innovative digital interventions that are paving the way to better mental health care accessibility with Susan Solinsky, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Ellipsis Health, Dr. John Langlow, MD, MBA, Medical Director at Lucet, and Dr. Bipin Mistry, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer at Alight Solutions. Read highlights from their conversation below. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Dr. Bipin Mistry: I look at things from an employer perspective, and it's been hard. Organizations are trying to tackle this problem to retain their workforce, and it starts with recognizing stress at the employee level. I've seen some organizations focus on training managers to identify stress in their direct reports, and others are trying to redesign benefits to account for work-life balance or are looking into point solutions. We’re trying to help employers understand their ecosystem.
Dr. John Langlow: Several tasks need to happen when a person sees a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist—but the first one is getting matched up with the right person. This is getting harder as there are so many different flavors of people who are dealing with special disorders like autism, eating disorders, substance abuse, and more. We have to be able to figure out a way to assess the member with measurement-based care, too, as putting someone with a provider is just not enough to keep people coming back. We need to figure out how to use providers’ unique skills in a better way.
Susan Solinksy: If an employee has a heart attack or breast cancer, we're immediately going to rally behind them. But if they have a mental health issue, we think there's something personally wrong with them. There's so much stigma and misconception around mental health, and I think employers have a big opportunity to use their voices and support all ages using social media. I think we all know that social media has exacerbated some of the problems that we’re seeing with depression and anxiety. But the question is, how are we going to use it to support people in need of help? We're starting to see a lot of influential people use their voices and raise their hands, and we’ll continue to see more of that.
Dr. John Langlow: There's a lot of work to be done in making telemedicine even more accessible. A lot of providers simply don’t know how to apply these solutions, while others got out of business because they have this idea that virtual care is dehumanizing, which isn’t true. These tools can help us do a better job and see people faster. Some tools help us quickly learn about patients’ disorders, and others help us develop treatment plans. There are all sorts of things that can be done with AI, too, like helping collect a detailed history or even doing a mental status exam. We have a long way to go with measurement-based care as well. A lot of providers are asking if there’s a way they can get out of it because they don’t have time, but we need to figure out how to do it and do it right.
Susan Solinksy: We did a big project last year that would be considered an integrated behavioral health delivery system. The doctors used cell phones with their patients, who would report to them in between visits and share when they felt depressed or anxious. It’s incredibly exciting because we reduced suicidal ideation and hospitalizations, and when you have a result like that – one that's tangible – the doctors are excited to keep using the technology.
Dr. Bipin Mistry: What I see ahead is technology really connecting the dots on mental health journeys. Things like VR and AI and how people are starting to interact with these technologies make this a really fascinating space. I also think we’ll start seeing people pay more and more attention to the way technologies are designed and packaged so they’re more intuitive. There's a lot of opportunities.
The Behavioral Health Tech Conference in November will continue to shine a light on ideas and solutions that improve access to mental and behavioral health care, pulling in perspectives from health plans, employers, behavioral health providers, digital health companies, investors, policymakers, and more so that we can continue making progress for people in need of care.
We’re looking forward to more discussions like this one, and we hope you’ll join us either in person or online. Register today!