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Quartet creates value‑based model for mental health with Blue Cross NC

Jonathan LamantiaCrain's New York

Blog | Healthcare | Jan 31, 2020

Quartet, a Manhattan-based mental health technology company, is stepping up its agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to help the insurer create a value-based payment model for mental health.

Blue Cross NC will offer behavioral health providers in its network Quartet’s technology to help them track patients’ care and communicate with their primary care doctors.

Behavioral health providers who demonstrate they provide quicker access to appointments, better coordination with primary care doctors and improved health outcomes will receive higher payments from Blue Cross NC.

“That’s a marked difference from how mental health has been paid for,” said Dr. Kate Hobbs Knutson, Blue Cross’ chief of behavioral health. 

Patients will use Quartet’s technology to fill out evidence-based questionnaires that ask them to rate their levels of depression or anxiety as one way to measure progress.

The partnership represents an extension of Quartet’s core product, which has helped insurers and health systems identify patients who need mental health services and connect them to care.

The model developed for Blue Cross NC will also include ways to measure quality in the treatment of bipolar disorder and psychosis and allow patients to rate how empathetic providers are, said David Wennberg, Quartet’s CEO. 

Providers will be able to use the platform for all their patients, not just ones paying through Blue Cross. “Payer-specific tools don’t get used,” Wennberg said.

Quartet is in use in seven states and has previously announced partnerships with insurers, including Humana, and with the California system Sutter Health but isn’t involved with any New York organizations.

Quartet has raised $160.5 million from investors including Google’s venture capital arm, health insurer Centene and Deerfield Management. Blue Cross NC has also invested in the company through Echo Ventures, a joint investment farm with Cambia Health Solutions.

While Blue Cross will use the model to identify and reward high-quality providers, it won’t be used to weed out clinicians who aren’t getting results for patients, Hobbs Knutson said.

“We need to make sure we have adequate data to demonstrate low-value care,” she said.

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