Emory Healthcare, Goizueta Institute partner with NeuroFlow to scale integrated behavioral health program

Emory Healthcare and Emory University’s brain health center, the Goizueta Institute, have teamed up with NeuroFlow, maker of behavioral health integration software, to support the delivery of psychiatric services. 

The collaboration aims to complement and scale Emory’s collaborative care model within its primary care clinics. The partners will also pilot a primary care suicide prevention program. The initial NeuroFlow rollout will begin at one clinic and roll out to three more next year.

“NeuroFlow will expand clinical resources to patients in-between appointments that can help them explore and utilize healthy coping skills. With the support of behavioral healthcare managers, we will be able to track progress and create an optimal treatment plan to improve outcomes,” Bosco Lorio, Psy.D., behavioral health care manager in primary care at Emory University Hospital Midtown, said in a press release. 

As the health system has scaled, demand for primary and specialty medical services outpaced what could be offered through a traditional 1:1 referral model, Brandon Kitay, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of behavioral health integration at Emory Healthcare, told Fierce Healthcare.

“We needed to come up with creative solutions to fill the gaps,” he said. “While it would be great if we had enough psychiatrists and mental health specialists to see every patient, the reality is that not every mental health problem requires a patient to see a psychiatrist.”

Integrating behavioral health care is one way to break down silos and improve continuity of care and access to treatment, Kitay believes. Emory’s collaborative care model is part of its integrated behavioral health program formed by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in 2020. It has four collaborative care clinics serving about 50,000 patients. Approximately 15% of them qualify for collaborative care services.

Because of demand and a lack of resources, many patients in the U.S. receive mental health services from their primary care providers. But primary care clinics are not optimized to provide such care, like regular follow-ups to track medication adherence.

“A lot of complex infrastructure needs to be built in order to make this system of care functional, efficient and most of all sustainable,” Kitay said. NeuroFlow will now be providing that infrastructure.

To date, Emory has not had a patient-facing app to support behavioral health. Emory patients will now have access to self-directed content via NeuroFlow that reinforces psychotherapy between visits and provides care teams with frequent measures of patient progress. The hope is this can lead to faster recovery, better outcomes and fewer readmissions. It will also help the collaborative care teams track their minutes spent on care, which streamlines billing, Kitay explained.

“This provides a really new opportunity to interact with our patients outside the traditional office opportunities,” Kitay said. 

Emory will study how the implementation of NeuroFlow goes and how it affects workflows and care delivery. The health system has two years of data to date to assess how patients did before and after NeuroFlow. “We’re almost conducting our own implementation and effectiveness trial,” Kitay said.

Patients who do well with the app may not need to come in as often. Or, the app can flag to a care manager someone who needs more attention. NeuroFlow could effectively free up time among providers to intervene more effectively for those who need it most. 

Long-term, Kitay wants to use NeuroFlow to develop a virtual behavioral health clinic for rural communities.