PITTSBURGH & NEW YORK--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Quartet, a mission-driven technology company integrating mental health into primary care, announced today the expansion of their programs into Pennsylvania’s Butler and Westmoreland Counties. Their partnership to make mental healthcare more accessible first launched last summer in Pittsburgh. In the first seven months, thousands of physicians, behavioral healthcare specialists, and patients have engaged with Quartet.
“Highmark is leading the way among insurers in understanding that mental health is a core driver of overall health, and that investments in access and integration into primary care make good, moral, clinical, and economic sense.”
Quartet increases access to mental health resources by identifying Highmark members who may have undiagnosed mental health conditions. The platform also identifies patients who have a mental health diagnosis, but are not in treatment or could benefit from additional support. As the first platform to integrate mental health into primary care successfully, Quartet helps physicians to quickly initiate patients into care with the right specialist for their needs. Previously it could take months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist, and too often patients discouraged by the wait are not connected to care.
“It works like a dream,” says Kim Pierce, M.D., a primary care physician with Allegheny Health Network’s Stone Quarry Primary Care practice in Pittsburgh. “I can connect patients to care within a minute, either through the Quartet app on my smartphone or through the web portal that links right into our electronic health records.” Dr. Pierce initiates up to five patients a week, many of whom have mental health conditions connected to a chronic disease. Quartet has expanded to all of Allegheny Health Network’s primary care sites and is now engaging with specialists to provide local resources.
“There is significant and growing evidence that demonstrates the dramatic correlation between chronic disease and mental health,” said Barb Gray, R.N., senior vice president of clinical services at Highmark. “Our partnership with Quartet supports our care management objective of providing integrated solutions to help our members manage their chronic conditions and re-engage with their lives.”
Two-thirds of adult patients with a diagnosis of one of the top five physical illnesses (asthma, diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) also have a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression complicating their care. Nearly 70 percent of adults with mental health conditions also have a medical condition.1
“Highmark’s integrated care management team, in coordination with providers, community resources and other vendor partners, works to address the physical, mental and socio-economic determinants of care. Co-morbid conditions make it difficult for patients to adhere to treatment plans, and in some cases, keep them from ever seeking treatment in the first place,” Gray explained. “Untreated depression and anxiety can reduce quality of life and impact the entire family. Taking a holistic, integrated approach is essential in order to do right by our members.”
“America’s healthcare system has been acute, piecemeal, and prioritizing fee-for-service over value-based care for too long,” echoed David Wennberg, M.D., Quartet’s Chief Science Officer. “Highmark is leading the way among insurers in understanding that mental health is a core driver of overall health, and that investments in access and integration into primary care make good, moral, clinical, and economic sense.”
The financial cost of continuing to treat mental and physical disease in silos is staggering. A 2014 study commissioned by the American Psychiatric Association found that between $26.3 billion and $48.3 billion could be cut from the total cost of health care in the United States each year by effectively integrating medical and behavioral health treatment.2
What’s more, although most people with depression seek help from their primary care physician, those physicians are not always the best equipped to deal with mental health issues. A recent study published in Health Affairs found that primary care physicians were not as successful at managing depression as they were managing other chronic conditions. They didn’t schedule as many appointments, didn’t educate depressed patients on how to manage their symptoms, and didn’t regularly follow up to monitor their progress.3
Highmark and Quartet address this concern by supporting primary care physicians with telephonic “curbside consults” with psychiatrists, online patient support tools as needed, and rapid connections to behavioral health specialists who, with the patient’s permission, stay in communication with the primary care physician through quick and easy consult notes.
“Highmark has been a great partner and recognized that primary care physicians, behavioral health specialists and its members have benefited from Quartet,” said Arun Gupta, founder and CEO of Quartet. “We are excited to take our model of improved access, outcomes, and efficiency to more Pennsylvanians thanks to Highmark’s expanded sponsorship.”
Quartet was launched in 2014 and is currently partnered with leading health plans and provider organizations across the country. Backed by top healthcare and technology investors including GV (formerly Google Ventures), Oak HC/FT, F-Prime Capital Partners, and Polaris Partners, Quartet is quickly expanding across the country in 2017.
Quartet is a mission-driven technology company transforming the way mental healthcare is delivered. We partner with insurers and physicians to make mental healthcare more accessible and integrated into primary care. Our platform relies on advanced analytics, proven treatment programs, and easy-to-use technology to improve outcomes and total cost of care. We are a team of engineers, data scientists, and clinicians finding solutions for a broken healthcare system. For more information, visit www.quartethealth.com.
About Highmark Inc.
Highmark Inc. and its health insurance subsidiaries and affiliates collectively are among the ten largest health insurers in the United States and comprise the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated organization. Highmark and its diversified businesses and affiliates operate health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5.2 million members and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the Blue Card program. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance, vision care and other related businesses. Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
1 IMPACT Study (Improving Mood: Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment) Published in American Journal of Managed Care, February 14, 2008.
2 “Economic Impact of Integrated Medical-Behavioral Healthcare, Implications for Psychiatry,” Milliman study prepared for the American Psychiatric Association, April 2014
3 “Care Management Processes Used Less Often for Depression Than For Other Chronic Conditions in U.S. Primary Care Practices,” Health Affairs, March 2016