Understanding network cultural competence to improve behavioral health.

Understanding network cultural competence to improve behavioral health.

In the wake of the post-COVID mental health crisis, it’s crucial for health plans to improve behavioral health outcomes. Recent insights from Evernorth highlight the challenges health plans face within the behavioral health care system—the demand for mental health services exceeds the available provider supply, resulting in delays, suboptimal patient outcomes, and escalated health care costs. 

Evernorth reports that 50% of adults with a behavioral condition do not receive treatment, and the prevalence of behavioral health conditions increased by 4% from 2021 to 2022, with conditions such as ADHD, personality disorder, and autism spectrum disorder experiencing the most significant surges. However, implementing systems like early identification and identity-centered patient-provider matching can improve behavioral health care, even in the face of these challenges. 

In order to ensure that patients are matched with the provider that’s right for them, Violet built the industry’s first cultural competence benchmarking framework. This allows health plans greater visibility into the culturally responsive skill sets of their providers, and the ability to see how well their network is serving LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities. While these insights have a number of use cases, incorporating provider competencies into health plans’ directories is especially important for mental health care. On the provider side, cultural competence skills can build stronger therapeutic relationships and improve outcomes, and on the patient side, it means having the agency to select doctors with expertise tailored to their specific community. And with the increased consumerization of health care, patients are already asking for this data.

The connection between primary care and behavioral health care.

Health plans play a pivotal role in addressing the mental health crisis, as primary care providers are often the first touchpoint for patient mental health screenings. 

Evernorth's research underscores the intricate relationship between behavioral and medical conditions, revealing that 87% of patients with a behavioral condition also have one or more medical conditions. The untreated behavioral conditions exacerbate co-occurring medical conditions, escalating costs and impacting overall well-being. But effective behavioral health treatment is a solution that can reduce these medical costs. In an example cited by Evernorth, patients with type II diabetes and major depressive disorder who received behavioral treatment saved $1,649 per member per year when compared to those who received insufficient behavioral care.

How Violet works with health plans. 

Violet equips health plans with provider cultural competency data that seamlessly plugs into care navigation solutions, whether they are patient facing or internal. We can ensure that a BIPOC patient seeking culturally sensitive care can book an appointment with confidence after seeing that Violet has verified the provider as BIPOC-inclusive. Patients who have an initial positive interaction with their mental health providers are more likely to return for follow-up care, and culturally competent providers are shown to have better outcomes in treatment adherence, retention, and completion.

Violet’s curriculum contains extensive training modules focused on depression screening in the primary care setting, with the goal of better capturing depression in underdiagnosed and undertreated communities. These courses were designed to have a tangible impact on HEDIS and STARS quality measures, which offers plans a strategic way to enhance care quality and mental health outcomes. In a research study with Octave Health, patients who met with verified inclusive providers were more likely to fill out depression screenings, and reported improved mental health, which was shown by decreases in PHQ-9/GAD-7 scores.

The impact of verifying inclusive providers combined with cultural competence training is clear—organizations utilizing Violet reported a 38% decrease in patient no-show rates, a 43% increase in overall attended appointments, and 9% faster access to care.

For health plans, improving behavioral health outcomes requires a strategic blend of personalized care pathways, early identification, and provider cultural competence. Violet invites health plan leaders to join us in addressing the critical gap in behavioral health care by ensuring greater network inclusivity. 

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