Evernorth, BHCOE team to develop quality measures for autism

Cigna's Evernorth is teaming with the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) to more effectively measure the quality of care for people with autism.

The partnership will allow the two to collaborate on creating measures that will help people with autism and their caregivers track the efficacy of their treatment. The partners plan to start with measures for applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is the most well-researched and effective intervention for people with autism spectrum disorder.

The lack of common performance measures for ABA makes it hard to track outcomes among providers, according to the announcement.

“Autistic individuals and their families deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing the services they receive have met clear metrics for quality and effectiveness. That is what Evernorth and BHCOE can help deliver by establishing this foundation for consistent performance standards grounded in evidence-based practice,” said Darren Sush, head of autism and psychology, behavioral health at Evernorth, in a statement. “Together, we can build innovative value-based care models and help our network of ABA providers drive quality improvements.”

The partnership comes as data suggest autism diagnoses are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an 18% higher prevalence of autism in children over the last two years.

The ultimate goal is to build out the measurement infrastructure for autism care to allow people to more effectively choose providers who offer the care they're looking for at a high quality. It also seeks to arm them with the information they need to play a role in shaping value-based care models.

Better measurement also allows clinicians to track which therapies are proving the most effective.

“The BHCOE Evernorth partnership is intentional in its goal to serve the growing autism community need for quality care,” said Sara Litvak, BHCOE CEO, in a statement. “The collaboration of our two organizations marks a critical turning point toward a future where evidence and quality-based measures demonstrate the beneficial outcomes of ABA services and expand access by aligning care with value-driven reimbursement systems. It’s exciting to partner with a company of Evernorth’s vision and scale as we continue on BHCOE’s mission to improve person-centered behavioral health.”