Quartet, Sutter Health use big data to get patients the mental healthcare they need

By Jonah Comstock
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Quartet Health, a behavioral health technology company backed by Google Ventures that has worked with major insurers like Humana and Premera Blue Cross, is embarking on a its first large-scale partnership with a provider organization: California’s Sutter Health.

The arrangement is part of a larger push on Sutter’s part to better integrate its mental and physical healthcare.

“This very archaic way of viewing separation between physical and mental health, the body and the mind, serves no one well,” John Boyd, the system executive for mental health at Sutter, told MobiHealthNews. “…The average person, it can take them anywhere up to and beyond 7,8 years before they realize they have a mental health challenge, before they seek help. So one of the things we wanted to do was look at what are the resources and tools that we would have available that could allow us to get ahead of that curve and really support people in understanding more broadly what’s going on with them.”

Quartet accomplishes that by tapping into big data to identify people within a primary care system with undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions.

“The business proposition is there’s a quality value proposition because if patrons have anxiety and depression they tend to be poor at navigating the healthcare system, so they can end up in the ER or the hospital because they don’t understand all parts of their care,” Dr. David Wennberg, Quartet’s chief data scientist, told MobiHealthNews. “The goal here is short-term goal-directed therapy for people where they can work with behavioral health providers with an orientation toward functional status.”

Normally, Quartet uses claims data for its analyses. But working with a health system allows them to wrap EHR data into the mix too, a prospect Wennberg is excited about.

In addition to using data to find patients whose mental health conditions aren’t being addressed, Quartet also uses data to match those patients with the best mental health providers, both face to face and via telemedicine. That includes finding a provider who takes a patient’s insurance.

This is part of a larger spat of mental health-related partnerships for Sutter, some of which will be announced in the weeks and months to come.

“This is a wonderful time in mental health for us to take a look at the whole idea of human design in mental health,” Boyd said. “We have archaic systems, public and private sector, designed around archaic funding streams and models of care. Unfortunately, that has resulted in a real divergence from looking at the importance of human design and the needs of people. We really believe that embracing the technology and a partnership with Quartet really returns that human design to mental health and re-unites people with the type of care that they want with mental health as well as provides options for where they want to access that care.”