PITTSBURGH & NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Highmark Inc., among the ten largest health insurers in the United States and the fourth largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated company, and Quartet, a clinically-guided technology company improving the integration of behavioral and physical health care, today announced a collaboration to provide enhanced care for individuals with behavioral health needs.
“The next step toward true mental health parity comes from understanding the interconnection between brain illness and other chronic conditions, and treating them with equal emphasis,” said Patrick J. Kennedy, who as a former Congressman from Rhode Island championed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and now sits on the Board of Quartet. “Mental health professionals often work in practice setting silos separate and apart from primary care physicians, making it difficult to communicate and collaborate. Having dedicated much of my career and life to this cause, it’s exciting for me to see how integrated care models such as the Highmark Quartet partnership one are translating to meaningful change in the market.”
“Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand, but recent studies have highlighted difficulties in coordinating treatment of both,”1 said Deborah Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark Health Plan. “Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness jeopardizes our members’ ability to care for their health, and can make it especially difficult for them to effectively manage chronic conditions. To help, Highmark is retooling its care management program to better identify and resolve any clinical, social and behavioral challenges that could potentially block members from receiving the care they need.”
“Everyone knows someone who is struggling with a behavioral health issue,” said Duke Ruktanonchai, M.D., medical director of Behavioral Health at Highmark, “and, at the national level, people are not getting the help they need in a timely fashion.” Dr. Duke, as he prefers to be called, describes what he considers the perfect storm that makes the Quartet collaboration so vitally important. “Many primary care physicians don’t believe they have the time or expertise to deal with the complex nature of behavioral health issues. Layer on the fact that, in our current environment, referrals to specialists can take weeks or months. And top it off with the reality that people often delay seeking help until they are at a point of crisis. This is a critical situation in need of an urgent solution.”
That’s where Quartet comes in. Quartet, an exciting new component of Highmark’s care management program, helps primary care physicians readily identify members who could benefit from behavioral health support and provides access to a robust referral network of specialists to schedule patient appointments, often without the long wait that can be associated with these types of visits. Providers and members can also take advantage of supportive tools including telepsychiatry and online cognitive behavioral therapy. Through its partnership with Quartet, Highmark expects to improve access to appropriate care for its members living with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. The program will roll out first in Western Pennsylvania.
“Highmark truly recognizes the foundational role behavioral health plays in the overall health of its members,” said Arun Gupta, Founder and CEO of Quartet. “Highmark’s demonstrated leadership on this critical issue speaks to where we are heading as a health care system and a society. Quartet is excited to work with Highmark to serve the many Pennsylvanians in need of behavioral health care.”
In April 2016, Quartet raised $40 million in its Series B from GV (formerly Google Ventures), with participation from Oak HC/FT, F-Prime Capital Partners, and Polaris Partners. Quartet is using the investment to further build its team of data scientists, clinicians and technologists and scale its platform, notably in the Pennsylvania market.
Health Affairs published findings that primary care physicians do not manage depression as aggressively as other chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma or congestive heart failure. Health Affairs, 35.3 (March 2016), 394-400.
About Highmark Inc.
Highmark Inc. is among the ten largest health insurers in the United States and is the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated company. Highmark and its diversified businesses and affiliates operate health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5.2 million members. Its diversified health businesses serve group customer and individual health needs across the United States through dental insurance, vision care and other related health 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.
Quartet is committed to enabling every person in our society to thrive by building a collaborative behavioral and physical health ecosystem. By partnering with risk-sponsoring provider systems and payer organizations, Quartet increases access to behavioral health resources in their communities. Quartet’s technology and clinical services capabilities serve primary care providers, behavioral health providers and patients. We are a team of engineers, data scientists, clinicians and healthcare experts working to realize a society where behavioral health services are accessible, outcomes-driven, and integrated into primary care. For more information, visit www.quartethealth.com