How the Providence mission turned into behavioral healthcare for its employees, health plan members

In 2019, Renton, Wash.-based Providence Health and Services launched a behavioral telehealth program aimed at addressing the growing demand for mental and behavioral healthcare from its more than 120,000 employees across eight states.

Since that time, the program has expanded to the organization's 426,000 commercial health plan members in Oregon and Washington.

"It really stemmed from the delays we had seen and the urgent need of people demanding and needing mental and behavioral healthcare," Providence Health Plan CEO Don Antonucci told Becker's. "It was taking people five or six weeks to get an appointment."

Through a telehealth appointment made online or by phone, Providence employees and members are able to access cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, along with action and commitment therapy — two offerings "really focused on solutions," according to Mr. Antonucci.

To meet demand, the Behavioral Health Concierge program has grown to employ 24 providers licensed in eight states across the Providence footprint, with plans to expand as employee and member needs arise.

SInce the program began, it has seen 700 unique patients and 6,600 total visits. The majority of patients are seen within one week of request, and the average number of visits ranges from six to nine. In 2023, it saw an average of 139 health plan members per month.

"We're seeing a real impact from people having this resource and being able to work through their mental and behavioral health in a way that's really action oriented," Mr. Antonucci said.

The concierge program has a net promoter score of 81, with 64% of patients showing a reduction in severe and moderate anxiety to mild or minimal, and 67% of patients showing severe and moderate depression going to mild or minimal. 

For Mr. Antonucci, the program's efforts are rooted in the Providence mission: to know, care for and ease the way for patients and providers. 

"There was always a demand for behavioral healthcare, but now there's an expectation to be able to offer this," he said. "We have to make sure that the people providing services have access to this promise because that then translates to the member and patient experience as well."

"Keep it simple. Focus on programs that people are going to use and have evidence for helping people work through things in an action-oriented way. This is a sustainable program because it's easy for folks to find, and they can use the tools and capabilities beyond their provider."

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