More than 75% were in remission after 90 days at the Southern California health system, which expanded its use to help combat mental health issues caused by COVID-19.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent isolating effects of lockdowns and social distancing, MemorialCare began seeing an influx of mental health and substance use disorder patients within the community and beyond.
This increase, coupled with patients’ fear of visiting physicians in person during the pandemic, made MemorialCare look for a virtual solution that would enable staff to help the community by addressing mental health and substance use disorder on demand.
The health system found mental health IT vendor SilverCloud Health.
“With social distancing and the high cost of mental health services, it was important to partner with an organization that could help us solve these problems and provide clinically backed treatment to our community,” said Dr. Mark Schafer, CEO of MemorialCare Health System.
“The value proposition that SilverCloud offers breaks down barriers and improves outcomes by providing evidence-based, on-demand mental health solutions to diverse patient populations.”
When it comes to mental healthcare, challenges with access long have been a barrier to patients getting the care they need, when they need it. SilverCloud eliminates these barriers, Schafer said, by bringing decades of clinical research together with easy-to-use technology to deliver a suite of evidence-based behavioral and mental health programs that are scalable across large, diverse populations.
“The platform can be used in tandem with traditional care as an interim tool while waiting to see a provider, or as a self-guided resource that delivers the same or better outcomes as face-to-face therapy,” he said. “Available 24/7, with asynchronous support from coaches if needed, users have on-demand access to solutions that help them feel better.”
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
MemorialCare looked to the mental health platform as a responsive solution to improve the health and happiness of its patients while reducing the strain of the growing mental health burden by creating another way to meet the demand with clinically effective care.
“At MemorialCare, we believe that caring for mental health is equally as important as treating physical health,” Schafer stated. “In addition to offering a diversified suite of healthcare services to enhance overall wellness, partnering with like-minded organizations such as SilverCloud helps to advance this mission.”
The MemorialCare Innovation Fund, the investment arm of MemorialCare, helped fund the initial launch of the SilverCloud platform.
The platform’s online programs aim to help manage anxiety, depression, stress and sleep for every person’s mental health challenges and goals. Residents in Los Angeles and Orange Counties can sign up online at no cost and participate in virtual treatment at any pace in modules accessible at any time on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
“When users sign up, they take a seven-question wellbeing quiz and receive a score based on their answers, which helps identify personalized programs that best match each individual’s specific needs and goals,” Schafer explained.
“Average program length is eight to 10 weeks. The platform is backed by 17 years of clinical research and more than 30 peer-reviewed studies, delivering results equivalent to traditional face-to-face therapy.”
MemorialCare recently made the decision to expand beyond its patient population and provide access to all residents living in Orange and Los Angeles counties at no cost.
With the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacting the community’s health and wellbeing, the health system also recently added a new exclusive module – dealing with the emotional challenges caused by COVID-19 – as part of the free offering to the community.
By signing up for the platform through MemorialCare, the free program does not require a doctor’s order. It can be completed at any pace by participants, and it’s accessible via browser anytime on smartphone, tablet or computer.
“Easily accessible through a link on our website and communicated via email and other digital channels to our patients and communities, the numbers have shown us there is a need for digital mental health support and that people are interested in accessing mental healthcare from the privacy of their homes,” Schafer said.
“Community members who are existing patients are integrated through MemorialCare’s Epic EHR platform, giving providers the ability to support a patient’s progress with the platform.”
“We are encouraged by the positive feedback thus far that we’ve received about this free program,” Schafer said.
Since MemorialCare expanded the reach of the program in February 2021, the health system has had 525 new signups. Since the start of the program last year, the health system has seen 75% of depression patients using the digital mental health program go into remission within 90 days. More than 27% of enrolled users since the partnership began in July 2019 are integrated through the Epic EHR.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“My advice to healthcare organizations is to find and implement solutions that help break down barriers to entry,” Schafer advised. “The virtual nature of digital mental health treatment allows for people in need to access quality care, particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.”