COVID-19 Pandemic Spotlights Need for Better Access to Behavioral Health
Today Independence Blue Cross (Independence) and Quartet Health (Quartet) announced they will work together to launch a whole person health initiative in Southeastern Pennsylvania to address behavioral health needs by helping people easily access the most appropriate care for them.
The Independence initiative will address behavioral health conditions – such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder – highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing Quartet to Southeastern Pennsylvania. Through Quartet’s secure and virtual platform, doctors in the Independence network can easily refer their adult patients for behavioral health care. The Quartet platform can help doctors by proactively screening their patients who may need care. Independence fully insured members can also be referred to behavioral health care by an Independence case manager, and members can soon sign up for care through Quartet on their own.
Rather than just giving their patients a phone number to call or a website to visit, Quartet’s SmartMatch technology matches people to the right behavioral health care for their needs, such as in-person or virtual therapy and psychiatry. Quartet’s platform fosters collaboration between a person’s behavioral health provider and referring provider to help them get the support and treatment they need.
“Access to behavioral health care is incredibly challenging in the current health care ecosystem. Independence is determined to change that for our members and our community. We are proud to work with Quartet Health which shares our mission-driven commitment toward equitable, whole person health,” said Independence president and CEO Gregory E. Deavens.
Americans’ mental health is the worst it’s been in two decades. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, more than half of American adults believe the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health. Independence, specifically, saw more than a 14,000% increase in the use of mental health telemedicine in calendar year 2020 compared to calendar year 2019.
“Quartet is excited to work with Independence Blue Cross to transform the way behavioral health care is delivered in the Philadelphia region,” said Puneet Singh, CEO of Quartet. “The demand for behavioral health care is higher today than ever before. We applaud Independence’s commitment to addressing the needs of the community. The Quartet partnership will help people quickly and easily get the most appropriate behavioral health care for their specific needs.”
Independence has piloted and seen success integrating physical and behavioral health in primary care practices. These programs are focused on giving much-needed mental health care support to screen and treat patients in the primary care practice by adding a licensed clinical social worker to the team.
“We know models like the ones we have piloted not only improve members’ behavioral health but also their physical health,” said Dr. Richard L. Snyder, executive vice president of Facilitated Health Networks and chief medical officer for Independence. “Unfortunately, not every primary care physician has the resources to hire and integrate a behavioral health provider into their practice. So, we are building off that concept and offering physicians in our network a solution they can use to give their patients access to high quality mental health care – either in person or through telehealth.”
Independence’s partnership with Quartet comes on the heels of earlier efforts to help Philadelphians better understand and prioritize their mental health needs. In December 2020, Independence launched the Know Your Mind campaign to educate the community about symptoms of depression and anxiety so that they can help themselves and their loved ones. Independence also partnered with the City of Philadelphia on #mindPHL Together, an effort to improve community understanding of mental health and connect people to free, public mental health resources. This work has its foundation in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s 2020 COVID-19 National Pulse Survey data that shows certain negative behaviors increasing since the start of the pandemic. These behaviors, which include alcohol consumption (up 23%), smoking (up 19%), vaping (up 15%), and non-medical drug use (up 13%), can lead to anxiety and major depression, as well as tobacco, substance, and alcohol use disorders.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we serve more than 8 million people nationwide. For more than 80 years, we have been enhancing the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve. We deliver innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneer new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and support programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more, visit ibx.com. Connect with us on Facebook at facebook.com/ibx and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Quartet is a platform that makes it easier for people to get the most appropriate mental health care for their needs. Our technology and services reach people who need care, connect them to the right care, track the quality of their care, and support their care journeys. Backed by venture funding from top investors like Oak HC/FT, GV (formerly Google Ventures), F-Prime Capital Partners, Polaris Partners, Deerfield Management, Centene Corporation, and Echo Health Ventures, Quartet partners with health insurance plans and health systems across the country to help people get the care they need. As the largest provider of tech-enabled integrated mental health care, Quartet’s network of more than 25,000 health care providers help people get the support and resources they need to manage their mental health.