Behavioral health technology company Quartet Health has expanded to two new states with a growing focus on supporting Medicaid beneficiaries with mental health conditions.
The New York City-based startup announced partnerships with Chicago-based IlliniCare Health, a Medicaid health plan in Illinois, and Louisiana Healthcare Connections, a Medicaid health plan with 450,000 members across Louisiana. Both health plans are focused on improving access to behavioral health care for plan members and better integrating primary care and mental health care services.
Quartet Health was founded in 2014 and has raised a total of $153 million from investors. The company has developed a central technology platform that enables physicians, mental health providers and payers to coordinate care and drive down health costs. The company currently operates in seven states—Pennsylvania, Washington, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Louisiana and Illinois.
The expansion comes on the heels of Quartet's latest funding round, a $60 million series D investment led by major insurer Centene Corporation, which offers Medicaid insurance plans to more than 7.2 million members.
The funding round also included returning investors F-Prime Capital Partners, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Oak HC/FT and Polaris Partners. The funding will fuel continued growth and expansion nationwide, the company said.
“We are committed to building a health care system in which every person with a mental health condition gets the care they need,” David Wennberg, M.D., CEO of Quartet, said in a statement.
The strategic partnership with Centene will enable the company to support the experience of individuals in need of mental health care services, including Medicaid beneficiaries and their team of care providers, Wennberg said.
IlliniCare Health and Louisiana Healthcare Connections are both subsidiaries of Centene.
Quartet also announced it was expanding its platform to enable clinically adjacent providers and community-based professionals such as case managers to access the technology tools to support patients and connect them to mental health care. This is particularly relevant for Medicaid beneficiaries, many of whom are served by Federally Qualified Health Centers and often have nonclinical professionals like social workers as a part of their care team.
Focus on underserved Medicaid patients
About 10 million Americans with a behavioral health diagnosis are enrolled in Medicaid, the main provider of mental health services for people affected by serious mental health conditions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The average spend of a Medicaid beneficiary with mental health conditions is four times greater than someone without. This excess spend often shows up through physical health complications and costly episodes such as emergency room visits.
Research shows that when mental health is integrated with primary care, patient health improves and the cost of care goes down.
Illinois and Louisiana are two states with a recognized need for improved access to mental health services, Jeff Soffen, vice president of strategic growth at Quartet, told FierceHealthcare.
In Louisiana, 20% of the state's 4.6 million people are enrolled in Medicaid. Less than 40% of adults living in Louisiana with mental health conditions receive any form of treatment, and the state has one of the lowest provider supplies in the nation. Louisiana is ranked 45th of 50 by Mental Health America with one behavioral health provider for every 810 patients.
"Centene is focused on going to the areas of greatest need and that strongly aligns with our mission. We're not shying away from going to areas where it’s going to be a challenge to create the most appropriate access for mental health," Soffen said.
The partnership with Quartet is part of Louisiana Healthcare Connections' strategy to increase access to quality behavioral health care for its 450,000 members across the state, Kendra Case, Louisiana Healthcare Connections' chief operating officer, said in a statement.
The Healthy Louisiana Medicaid health plan will work with Quartet to help primary care physicians identify patients with underlying mental health conditions and to provide those physicians with the data and tools necessary to seamlessly refer patients to a qualified network of mental health providers.
"As a health plan, we have long recognized the correlation between physical and behavioral health, and the importance of ensuring access to holistic, integrated care for improved outcomes,” Case said.
Quartet will begin rolling out its technology and services to Louisiana Healthcare Connections’ network of providers in the New Orleans area this summer before expanding statewide.
Of the 12.7 million residents in the state of Illinois, 28% are low income and 19% are on Medicaid. Medicaid members in Illinois with behavioral health conditions represent 25% of Illinois’ total Medicaid membership but account for 56% of the total spending, according to state data.
IlliniCare Health officials said Quartet's platform will help the organization better integrate primary care and mental health for members and will enable providers to more effectively collaborate on treatment plans.
“At IlliniCare Health, we meet our members where they are in life and believe in treating the whole person, not just the physical body,” Leslie Naamon, CEO of IlliniCare Health, said in a statement.
Traditionally, it can take months for a member to get an appointment with a psychiatrist or therapist. With more than 11,000 mental health and primary care providers working together on Quartet’s platform, 86% of those referred to a mental health provider are connected to care in less than two weeks, and most hear directly from a provider within 36 hours, the company said.
There is an ongoing shift to more integrated mental health services for underserved populations, Soffen said. "More states are realizing that mental health is not only a significant issue and a big need for constituents but are also recognizing the importance of holistic care. It’s not just about providing more access to care, it’s about integrating those two normally siloed entities of mental and physical health," he said.