Community Health Systems announced this morning a deal with population health management company Mindoula Health that will bring virtual behavioral health services to the system’s roughly 700 affiliated primary care providers.
The arrangement targets patients with mental health conditions including anxiety and depression and will provide behavioral health services ranging from initial assessments to virtual follow-ups.
“By integrating behavioral care with primary care, we can help our providers address the whole health of their patients,” Lynn Simon, M.D., president of healthcare innovation and chief medical officer at CHS, said in the announcement. “Left untreated, anxiety and depression can have a negative impact on patients’ physical health and overall quality of life. Our partnership with Mindoula will help ensure mental health care is readily available for our patients.”
Simon also said that the rollout will help address the nation’s shortage of behavioral care providers. Nearly half of the U.S. population lived in a mental health workforce shortage area in 2022, per data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Silver Spring, Maryland-based Mindoula currently operates in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Its offering uses clinically validated patient assessment to identify behavioral health needs and track any changes over the course of treatment.
Alongside treatment from their primary care provider, patients also receive support from a case manager and virtual psychiatrist via an app-based platform with medication reminders, encrypted messaging and two-way video capabilities, according to the company.
The approach, which Mindoula refers to as collaborative care management, “is an evidence-based integrated care approach that leads to significantly better clinical outcomes, improved functioning and greater patient and provider satisfaction compared to usual care,” Glenda Wrenn, M.D., chief clinical strategy officer of Mindoula Health, said in the announcement. “We are thrilled to bring our nationwide scale and expertise in collaborative care to our partnership with [CHS] by supporting their affiliated providers with resources to help effectively treat patients.”
Wrenn noted that mental health care integration will likely bring cost savings, and pointed to a Milliman study from 2018 that estimated $38 billion to $68 billion in annual, nationwide savings “through effective integration of mental health care with other types of medical care.”
CHS is among the country’s largest for-profit health systems with 76 owned or leased affiliate hospitals and over 1,000 other sites of care, which include the hundreds of primary care physician offices involved in the Mindoula rollout.
The company has logged an $89 million net loss during the first six months of 2023—up from the prior year’s $327 million but still below investors’ expectations and the performances of its large for-profit peers.
During its most recent earnings call, the company highlighted an enterprisewide, multiyear modernization and optimization initiative that executives said would eliminate numerous disparate systems and significantly increase the system’s ability to view and manage large-scale data.