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When it comes to conditions such as depression and anxiety, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Each treatment plan must be personalized and rely on data in order to achieve better outcomes.

When it comes to conditions such as depression and anxiety, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Each treatment plan must be personalized and data-driven in order to achieve better outcomes. 

Precision treatment models use data to personalize care to the individual and their symptoms. Dr. Mimi Winsberg, CMO of Brightside, shared with me how effective their precision care model is and why it's intriguing to payers. We discussed shifting trends in behavioral health and what payers are looking for in behavioral health solutions. You can read our conversation below.

What are some current limitations of telemental health care for anxiety & depression?

As the pandemic continues to drive unprecedented demand for depression and anxiety treatment, patients are finding that access to quality providers is severely limited. They may have to wait weeks or even months to find a specialist, and the treatment they do receive often comes from primary care providers who are not set up to deliver successful mental health care. In addition, very little measurement-based care is practiced, so efficacy is hard to demonstrate.  

The widespread adoption of telemedicine and reabsorption of behavioral health benefits by payers has certainly increased access, but access alone is not enough. Delivering the quality of care that payers, employers, providers, and patients demand requires a data-driven approach to diagnosis and a closed-loop treatment model—both of which are uncommon in the mental health space. Because “what gets measured gets managed”, it is only by quantifying outcomes that we can work to improve them.

Of course, it’s difficult to measure or assess a treatment protocol that hasn’t been standardized. Telepsychiatry and teletherapy have followed a somewhat haphazard approach—we really don’t know what’s happening in Zoom rooms. What are providers communicating? What are patients absorbing? How is the right medication selected? And what are their therapy sessions accomplishing? Effective and quality mental health treatment is evidence-adherent and follows standardized, measurable protocols. 

Also, most telehealth solutions are designed for people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression but don’t provide options for those higher on the severity and complexity continuum. Only a data-driven approach can significantly improve the quality of care, enabling treatment that’s both convenient and personalized—which today’s consumers demand of all service industries. Addressing these limitations in access and quality is what drives Brightside’s founding mission. By driving superior outcomes and addressing the segment of the market with more clinical burden, Brightside has all the rigor of a healthcare company in addition to all the innovation of a technology company. 

What is precision treatment, and how can it help resolve these limitations?

Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are highly heterogeneous—they can present in hundreds of ways: for example, two patients can share just one symptom and get the same depression diagnosis. Selecting and delivering the right treatment for each individual is critical in order to achieve the best outcomes.

Brightside’s precision care model enables its psychiatrists and therapists to quickly match each patient with the appropriate treatment, resulting in better outcomes, faster. Rather than simply bucketing a patient into a general diagnostic category, and then spending precious time on trial and error treatment selection, Brightside providers leverage data-driven, evidence-adherent solutions for both assessing and treating each patient’s unique symptom clusters. Progress is tracked continuously, and follow-ups are proactively scheduled when a member may need support. This efficient approach allows providers to minimize administrative tasks and focus on delivering quality care to those who need it most.

Offering patients nationwide access to precision psychiatry and therapy within 48 hours dramatically streamlines the care journey. Brightside’s proprietary algorithm, PrecisionRx, optimizes initial treatment selection, and our smart platform allows patients and providers to track the progress of personalized protocols on a granular level to achieve outcomes far superior to traditional treatment.

By delivering access to high-quality personalized care at scale, Brightside’s world-class providers help patients across the severity and complexity spectrum feel better, faster, and stay that way. Our next-generation platform is delivering life-changing depression and anxiety treatment and establishing a new standard of care for the telemedicine age, while also leading the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care.

How are payer attitudes shifting when it comes to behavioral health?

For many years, a large portion of behavioral benefits were outsourced from payers to MBHOs (Managed Behavioral Health Organizations), similarly to how pharmacy is outsourced to PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers). But this period included longstanding and pervasive problems with access, measurement, care integration, and quality. Vocal employers, members, and providers have long been demanding better solutions.

Payers are listening. Beacon, Magellan, and New Directions have now all been acquired by payers, as payers reinvest in behavioral health care and demonstrate commitment to better access, quality, and cost. Telemedicine has been both a catalyst, and an accelerant, offering new tools and approaches to help payers achieve these goals.

What are payers looking for from behavioral health solutions?

Payers are looking for a few key factors beyond access to behavioral health care providers. First, they want effective care with better clinical outcomes and lower cost.  Data is of course essential to driving better outcomes and reduced costs, including measurement-based care delivery, deeper insights into member needs, and cost impact analysis. 

Second, payers want to stand out based on their behavioral offerings. This means offering integrated solutions that meet the needs of their employer customers, ensuring that employers can get all of their solutions through the payer, obviating the need for ancillary siloed service providers.

Third, payers want to support their large provider networks, particularly those that are risk bearing, like ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations). These ACOs are taking on behavioral health risk without strong tools and skills to manage it. 

How is Brightside helping payers achieve and exceed their goals? 

Brightside was built to deliver measurably better care at scale, even among the hardest to treat member populations. We deliver industry leading outcomes - 50% better rates of treatment response and remission than a leading US health system, or our closest competitor, nationwide, with appointments available within 48 hours.

In doing so, Brightside is opening up the path to true value based care. Because we stand behind the quality of our care model, we’re happy to put our dollars behind delivering outcomes, not just care. We’re collaborating with our payer partners to finally open up value based care in mental health.