Sutter Health, a healthcare system in Northern California, and behavioral health technology company Quartet, are collaborating to deploy a technology platform that aims to better integrate mental and physical healthcare in Sutter Health’s network.
In a press release, Sutter Health said it will work with Quartet to improve ways of diagnosing and delivering care to residents living with mental health conditions, which are often connected to chronic physical illnesses. Initially, Sutter Medical Foundation and Sutter Medical Group will pilot Quartet’s technology in the Roseville, Calif. area. This marks the first time Quartet has entered the California market, the company said.
“At Sutter Health, we are taking strong steps to raise awareness and further educate ourselves and the communities we serve about the importance of mental healthcare. Our work ranges from partnering with organizations to broaden access to support services, address workplace mental health, and even expand the use of electronic video evaluations in our own emergency departments,” John Boyd, Sutter Health CEO, Mental Health Services, said in a prepared statement. “Strengthening our efforts to integrate mental healthcare throughout our system, specifically into our primary care network, and being a champion in community-based care is another critical part of the solution—one that will take innovative companies like Quartet.”
According to Sutter Health, nearly half of the U.S. adult population has a chronic physical disease, and two-thirds of those have an accompanying mental health condition. These patients account for 50 percent of overall healthcare spend. However, patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes or arthritis can have a significantly higher quality of life and learn to better manage their physical symptoms by addressing their mental health needs. Collaborative care, and giving patients better access to mental health services, has been proven to be highly effective both in improving patient outcomes and driving down healthcare costs.
Quartet’s technology is designed to identify patients with underlying mental health conditions and help primary care physicians initiate them into care with the right specialists, while facilitating a collaborative approach for ongoing care, the two organizations said in the press release.
Quartet developed a virtual, data-driven environment for shared care planning. Resources available through Quartet include a vetted group of local mental health specialists, live psychiatry consults for providers, data-driven best practices and customer service support for patients. The platform is designed to help Sutter physician offices overcome typical struggles surrounding mental healthcare delivery such as lack of access to specialists, time required for coordination, difficulty with follow ups and limited ongoing evaluation based on results, health system officials said.
“Our fractured health system needs to better support people living with mental health conditions,” Arun Gupta, founder and CEO of Quartet, said in a statement. “Teaming up with leading health systems like Sutter Health, we are proving that technology can scale integrated healthcare models, and that we can better serve communities in need while lowering healthcare costs.”
“Primary care doctors are the front door to healthcare, and we always want to be in the best position to support our patients, no matter what their questions or concerns,” Michael Conroy, M.D., Sutter Medical Group’s chief medical officer, said. “Having quick, convenient access to trusted resources for specialized care like mental health gives us and our patients great comfort and confidence.”
According to the Sacramento Region Community Health Needs Assessment, emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to mental health conditions are at an all-time high—about four times the rate of the country and state benchmarks. In continued efforts to educate communities about mental health, Sutter Health has also recently teamed up with One Mind at Work and the Steinberg Institute to transform employer-based approaches aimed at employee wellbeing, reducing business costs and addressing social prejudice. It’s estimated that $48.3 billion could be cut from the total cost of healthcare in the U.S. each year by effectively integrating physical and mental health services, health system officials said.
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