Evernorth rolls out measurement-based care program for behavioral health

Cigna's Evernorth is launching a new, value-based care management program for its behavioral health network.

The company said in an announcement that this marks a key step in collaboration with providers as the industry pushes for standardized benchmarks in behavioral health. About 44,000 providers will participate in the program at launch, according to Evernorth.

Ultimately, if payers and providers align on how to measure success in treatment, it will drive better care, lower costs and lead to improvements in collaboration. It should also ease administrative burdens for providers, according to the announcement, as at present they use a wide array of measures across multiple payers.

“Across the health care industry, we all understand the importance of measurement, and delivering quality behavioral health outcomes and care represents our next step in strengthening the interventions for our patients and deepening our relationships with providers,” said Eva Borden, president of behavioral health at Evernorth, in the release. “Right now, there is a lack of consistent, repeatable measures—that are broadly agreed upon—resulting in more administrative work, and less trust, from our provider partners."

Value-based or measurement-based care has gained steam in for medical care, but progress has lagged in behavioral health, Evernorth said. Having metrics in place to measure performance is crucial to driving greater uptake of these value-based models.

The program has identified several metrics to work from at the outset, such as the time it takes for a patient to secure an appointment and total cost-of-care savings. As the Evernorth team works alongside providers, they'll develop and add new metrics through the program.

The providers who have signed on for the launch include health coaches, therapists and prescribers who can treat a wide variety of behavioral health conditions, according to the announcement.

“By tracking this information, we can help move the needle in partnership with our providers as we all work together to improve care for the people we serve,” Doug Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for behavioral health at Evernorth, said in the release. “We want our providers to be focused on patient care and not on paperwork, and we plan to incorporate measurement in ways that minimize the administrative burdens and maximize the benefits for providers and patients."

"By embedding shared metrics in the customer journey, both payers and providers will develop insights into access and outcomes that will benefit everyone," he added.