Behavioral Health: It’s Here, There, and Everywhere

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought mental health further to the forefront, heightening awareness across the country about the far-reaching impact on our collective well-being.  As we all have been coping with the rapidly-spreading virus, the various mitigation strategies employed (shelter-in-place orders, social distancing, quarantine, and others) and the resulting (and ongoing) economic impacts, feelings of isolation and loneliness, anxiety, and heightened stress have become commonplace. Furthermore, more severe behavioral health issues related to substance abuse, depression, domestic violence, and instances of post-traumatic stress are becoming more prevalent.
Earlier this year TripleTree explored these factors as a part of our blog series on A New Era of Virtual Health, including unpacking the implications, and opportunities, the coronavirus pandemic has created for behavioral health providers and the innovative technology capabilities that are facilitating care in this new market environment.
In the next installment of TripleTree’s Market Insights LIVE on October 6th, TripleTree professionals and industry leaders from Anthem, axialHealthcare, Caravel Autism Health and The Emily Program (a TT Capital Partners portfolio company), will share in-depth perspectives on some of these topics and the overall state of mental health across the industry. Additional discussion topics will include:

Demand for Behavioral Health on the Rise
The annual Behavioral Health market is projected to reach $240B+ by 2026. The size and growth of the behavioral health industry, coupled with the recognition that enabling greater access to mental healthcare is critical to enhancing an individual’s overall health, has resulted in increased political awareness and an expansion of care and treatment options. Accordingly, the regulatory and reimbursement environment is adapting, as the vast majority of Americans now have behavioral health coverage due to mental health parity and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The coronavirus pandemic has only served to accelerate this trend of increased demand for behavioral health services. The crisis has impacted each of us in one way or another – individuals facing job losses, pay cuts, and furloughs; fear of a recession; fear of infection for oneself or loved ones; and fear of the unknown amidst a rapidly evolving situation. With nearly 50% of adults in America reporting that worry and stress related to the coronavirus have had a negative impact on their mental health, existing behavioral health patients and a rising tide of new “entrants” across the severity spectrum are utilizing behavioral health care.
  • What is driving this staggering increase in the prevalence of individuals with autism since 2010 and how is the industry managing the growing waitlists of individuals needing treatment?
  • Historically, the stigma around eating disorders presented challenges for many needing treatment. How has that evolved over the years?
  • The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial crisis are understandably increasing substance abuse usage and addiction; where has this impact manifested itself most acutely over the last 6 months?
  • Which products / benefits have the highest utilization / uptake? Which products / benefits should we want to see greater utilization / uptake?
Delivering Quality Care at Scale
As the stigma of behavioral health conditions continues to fade and the broader healthcare industry’s focus on behavioral health intensifies, we expect to see sustained efforts from the government and the private sector to drive increased awareness and further expand access to care. Health insurers and employers will expand efforts to acquire actionable data, seeking out new technologies to identify members/employees with behavioral health needs, enhance access to care, and measure outcomes. Today, there are ~6,000 too few behavioral health providers in the U.S., and this shortage is expected to grow to a staggering 250,000 by 2030. A steady supply of behavioral health professionals within a given provider’s network is critical to meeting the increased demand, which is especially true in the current climate. Innovative leaders in the field are working to solve for this imbalance in a cost-effective manner, without jeopardizing the delivery of quality care.
  • Measuring quality and outcomes in behavioral health presents its own set of challenges, how is behavioral health intertwined into the health plan product offering and how is the payer community thinking about this outcomes measurement?
  • Less than 20% of individuals with substance use disorders are seeking treatment, and those that do find it difficult to navigate a fractured system. How are providers working to create an end-to-end ecosystem to identify, connect, and care for those in need?
  • The severity of eating disorders and associated challenges / comorbidities stretch wide. How important is it for providers to serve the needs across the entire spectrum, meeting the patient in their place of need, from outpatient to residential?
  • The needs of those with autism is extremely unique and personalized. What challenges persist when working to deliver highly specialized treatment to this population and how is the market adapting to do so at scale?
Evolving Role of Data and Technology in Coordinating and Delivering Care
The treatment of behavioral health conditions was once primarily limited to drug prescriptions and in-person therapy sessions. The industry has undergone a transformation whereby technology has enabled a shift of power into the hands of the patient. Significant capital is being invested into digital health platforms, spanning providers, employers, payers and direct-to-consumer. The rapid growth of segment-specific behavioral health services is driving demand for new provider IT solutions / platforms with behavioral health technologies spanning core EHR/PM infrastructure, to telehealth platforms, to consumer applications for self-help. In a previous blog we highlighted the opportunity for increased adoption of telehealth capabilities across the behavioral health spectrum and believe COVID-19 serves as a catalyst for positive disruption. There are technology-enabled options for those experiencing less severe mental health issues, while in higher acuity cases, behavioral telehealth can serve as a complementary tool alongside more comprehensive therapies or as a step-down treatment. Creativity coupled with strong execution will help leading behavioral technology platforms capitalize on the current environment and position themselves to thrive over the long-term.

  • How has the utilization of telehealth assisted traditional providers throughout the 2020 pandemic across various care settings? Is there a time and place for it within each respective field, and will it continue in a post-COVID-19 world?
  • What are the data management needs for behavioral health businesses and how do they utilize technology today? What are the key IT needs and where will behavioral health technology be in 3-5 years?
  • What technologies and complementary services are operators building to drive better member engagement and treatment adherence?
  • How does technology provide an opportunity to pursue a risk-based model with payers to drive medical cost savings and better outcomes?
As behavioral health issues have an increasing and more recognized impact on our daily lives, and as the COVID-19 pandemic triggers a rise in mental health-related diagnoses, the demand for convenient and affordable care for our individual well-being has never been higher. Whether at a provider’s office, in a patient’s home, or through an app on your phone, behavioral healthcare is more accessible than it ever has been before. We are excited to discuss and share perspectives on these and other themes changing healthcare delivery during our upcoming Market Insights LIVE thought leadership sessions – we hope to see you at an upcoming session! Until then, let us know what you think.
Behavioral Health: It’s Here, There, and Everywhere

Tuesday, October 6 | 10:00 AM CT
Click Here to Register
Jeff Jones
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