Two exploding areas of health care are behavioral health and home-based care services.
Increasingly, the two are also colliding.
The most recent example comes from the at-home care provider and coordinator MedArrive. The startup has partnered with Brave Health, a virtual-first behavioral health provider specifically focused on the Medicaid population.
“We were already running a care program with some dual-eligibles,” Bryant Hutson, the VP of business development at MedArrive, told Home Health Care News. “These were patients that had significant social determinants of health issues, and often were showing up in the ED because they couldn’t get over these issues that were causing barriers to care. As we got the program up and running, we realized that many of these patients also had significant behavioral health issues, often layered on top of the multiple chronic conditions that we were managing.”
That was the impetus to the eventual partnership between MedArrive and Brave, who met due to mutual health plan partners in Texas.
On its end, Brave partners with more than 200 health plans across 16 states. MedArrive, on the other hand, has nationwide capabilities, but is mostly focused in Florida, Texas, California and North Carolina. By the end of the year, the company hopes to be in 12 to 18 markets total.
MedArrive coordinates care between providers and health plans, and also utilizes EMS workers to deliver care in patients’ homes.
“EMTs and paramedics are very, very protocol driven,” Hutson said. “They’re just very good at going down the checklist of whatever we tell them to do. And so if that is an initiated visit with Brave for a telehealth visit, they can check that box to get that up and going.”
Through the partnership, MedArrive can let Brave know if a patient is dealing with behavioral health issues that they could better manage. Conversely, Brave can also refer to MedArrive if its clinicians feel that a patient could benefit from at-home care services.
“There’s a very well-documented interplay of behavioral health issues and SDOH issues that patients face every day,” Hutson said. “It’s a vicious cycle … the people that have behavioral health issues often have transit, transportation and food issues, the same things that make these chronic conditions exacerbated over time.”
Combining virtual care and in-person care, as well as home care and behavioral health services, enables MedArrive to check more boxes while on a visit. It also keeps patients’ issues from falling through the cracks in general, Hutson said.
The partnership right now exists only in Texas, but both organizations are hoping to bring it to other markets in the near-term future. MedArrive is also open – and actively looking for – similar partnerships elsewhere.
“We are actively having conversations with additional programs for partnerships on additional aspects and characteristics, partnerships that allow us to layer on additional value when we go into someone’s home,” Hutson said.
In the press release, the organizations highlighted just how big of an access issue there is for Medicaid beneficiaries that have behavioral health needs.
Specifically, the percentage of psychiatrists that accept Medicaid recently fell to 35%, according to JAMA psychiatry. At the same time, nearly one in four Americans receive health services through Medicaid.
“The single hardest thing we do at MedArrive is getting a patient to say, ‘Yes, you are welcomed into my home,’” Hutson said. “Once we are there, we want to deliver as much value as possible.”