CommonSpirit to link physical, behavioral health with Concert deal: HLTH 2020

Dive Brief:

  • Nonprofit health system CommonSpirit will start offering behavioral health in the primary care setting through a partnership with virtual care provider Concert Health, Lloyd Dean, chief executive of the Chicago-based organization, announced Wednesday at the HLTH conference.
  • Dean also teased an expanded partnership between CommonSpirit, the largest U.S. nonprofit health system by revenue, and Docent Health, a telehealth navigator program company, to extend the reach of its navigation services to more U.S. patients.
  • The goal of the partnerships is to expand access to healthcare, especially in underserved communities, even as racial disparities and inequitable patient outcomes come into harsh relief during the coronavirus pandemic. “This moment in history tells me that we are at an inflection point,” Dean said.

Dive Insight:

The partnership linking CommonSpirit doctors with San Diego-based Concert Health’s remote behavioral healthcare providers will expand CommonSpirit’s primary care services to include screenings for depression and anxiety, evidence-based psychotherapy interventions and weekly psychiatric consultations to support the primary care provider, CommonSpirit said.

Additionally, the system’s primary care providers can hand off a patient to behavioral health provider for support in less than two days, instead of giving them an external referral, and develop a joint care plan for each patient, including those on Medicare and Medicaid.

Reports of depression and anxiety have risen sharply in recent months as the pandemic drags on in the U.S.

“When you think about what people are experiencing, particularly people of color, but also communities at large with the stress of just being in this environment, the stress of being at home and the stress of not knowing what’s going to happen in the community, this is a vital partnership for us,” Dean said.

The model initially launched in Bakersfield, California, but is expected to scale to additional care sites across central California over the remainder of this year and move into additional markets in 2021, per a release on the news.

This year has seen an increased investment in preventive primary care from many large systems, including CommonSpirit. In June, it announced it was partnering with direct primary care provider Paladina Health to offer direct-to-employer primary care across its footprint.

The partnership with Docent, also announced Wednesday, builds on a four-year relationship working to improve health outcomes for maternity and orthopaedic patients, CommonSpirit said. Docent uses artificial intelligence to connect patients with local and community resources, educational programs and care prep.

CommonSpirit expects to extend Docent Health’s care navigation services and technology to more than 60 of its care sites in 11 states, following the successful results of a study finding the Docent program reduced preterm births among mothers in Medicaid by 37%, and caused 30-day readmission rates for orthopaedic patients to fall 71%, the system said.

CommonSpirit was created in February last year through the merger of nonprofit operators Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. The system, which has 137 hospitals and 1,000 care sites across 21 states, was in the red for its first fiscal year in financial results released October, reporting a loss of $524 million amid COVID-19 headwinds like flatlining admissions, badly performing investments and higher uncompensated care expenses.

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