Click the link below to access an interview with Rob Rebak from the Jan-Feb-Mar 2017 issue of Leader’s Magazine.
Behavioral health care provider continues trend of executive hires and technology investments to innovate and scale
Published by Crain’s NY Business on December 13, 2016
AbleTo’s CEO sees ‘enormous appetite’ for new ways to deliver mental health care
Rob Rebak recently became chief executive of AbleTo, one of several NY companies helping to drive mental health treatment onto mobile devices
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn on December 13, 2016
In the current political climate, non-partisan issues seem few and far between. Whether you want to Make America Great Again or are Still With Her, however, there are some issues that should never, ever be politicized, and the availability of high-quality and easily-accessible mental health care is one of them. And that is why the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act is so meaningful, as the most significant piece of legislation to support mental health care since the 2008 ‘parity’ law requiring equal coverage for physical and mental health care. Mental health should never be a partisan issue. We are better than that as a country, and the overwhelming support of this bill across party lines demonstrates just that.
The 21st Century Cures Act dedicates a significant portion of funding for essential developments in mental health – including better integration of physical and mental health, allowances to bolster the supply of key mental health clinicians to meet the overwhelming demand, earlier intervention of mental health screening, and dedication to fighting the opioid epidemic that is tearing through America’s communities, among others.
As a physician and Chief Medical Officer at AbleTo, a national behavioral health care provider, I cannot understate the significance of the passage of this bill and importance it may hold for funding key initiatives in mental health care that have been sorely lacking. It fuels the fire of our mission – to elevate behavioral health care as a core and critical component of overall medical health.
Still Work to Do
The 21st Century Cures Act is a big win for mental health, but we still have work to do. We will continue to serve as a passionate voice for the need to bridge the gaps between physical and mental health care. We will continue to spread the message that mental health must be affordable and easily accessible. We will continue to proactively engage patients and knock down the walls of stigma that to this day keep people from getting the help they need. We will continue to prove that mental health care truly can be delivered in a consistent and high-quality manner no matter where you are. We will continue to remind others that people still need people and that it’s OK to not be OK.And we will continue to advocate on behalf of those without a voice to ensure patients can and do receive the mental health care they need and deserve.
Continue to Push for Change
What we ask of you now is to join us as we raise our voices and to raise your voice too. Let’s capitalize on the momentum and continue to push for change in behavioral health care. Let’s continue to demonstrate that we can cross the aisle and join hands in non-partisan fashion to tackle issues like mental health care that matter to all of us. The hard work of putting legislation into action still remains, but the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act is a major step in the right direction.
Published December 12, 2016
NEW YORK, November 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — AbleTo, Inc., the leading provider of innovative behavioral telehealth solutions proven to improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs, added a new tool for its customers and providers to better connect patients to high-quality, evidence-based treatment and improve overall care. Nationwide, case managers from Aetna and other health plans are using the AbleTo Care Coordination Platform to streamline referrals and improve coordination of care.
The AbleTo Care Coordination Platform is fully integrated into Aetna’s EHR resulting in:
- Referrals: Easy referrals to improve access to care.
- Speeding follow-up: Improved visualization of the patient’s treatment progress and care coordination activities.
- Better outcomes: Health plans receive clinical case summaries which allow for better understanding of patient’s needs.
“Reducing costs and improving outcomes for patients with comorbid medical and behavioral health conditions means that we must find the most effective and efficient ways to ease the sharing of information between AbleTo Therapists and coaches, referring nurses, and PCPs and medical specialists,” said Jason Goodhand, VP of Product at AbleTo.
Bridging the Behavioral and Medical Care Gap
AbleTo Chief Clinical Officer Aimee Peters believes that care is still too siloed between behavioral and medical health. “Of patients with chronic diseases, like cardiac illness and diabetes, one in four may also suffer from mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and stress. AbleTo is focused on this intersection and has demonstrated proven results.” AbleTo’s Aetna Cardiac Program graduates saw 31% fewer hospital admissions, and a reduction in depression (54%), anxiety (45%), and stress (43%). source
“There is an important need to close the care coordination gap in order to improve outcomes for patients like these. Case managers need to know their patient’s progress, results, and important support that is needed to help them maintain the gains that they made.”
Research shows that care coordination is central to patient engagement. According to research published in Health Affairs, “communicating well with patients who have serious illnesses or chronic conditions and helping patients manage their care at home can be instrumental in avoiding complications and improving outcomes.”
On November 17, 2016, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy called on health care leaders, physicians, and families “to end the public health crisis of addiction.” The report, titled Facing Addiction in America, was the first of its kind about substance abuse ever issued by a Surgeon General. Public health historians will remember it fondly, but only if we put action behind the plan.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience, overseeing a national network of licensed clinical social workers and behavioral coaches to help individuals overcome barriers to addressing the emotional and physical challenges that if left untreated lead to poorer health and lost productivity. The Surgeon General’s reports points out important key factors that can help us develop effective responses to this crisis, including:
- Addiction is not a moral flaw, it is a chronic neurological disorder that needs to be addressed in a similar way as we approach the treatment of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Addiction is a public health concern. The report states that 78 people dying every day from an opioid overdose. Further, over 40 percent of people with a substance use disorder also have a mental health condition, yet fewer than half (48.0 percent) receive treatment for either disorder.
The entire report is absolutely worth a read (at minimum, the executive summary), however one line in particular struck me:
“We have learned that recovery has many pathways that should be tailored to fit the unique cultural values and psychological and behavioral health needs of each individual.”
Here, we have the U.S. Surgeon General so clearly stating that behavioral health is a critical factor to recovery. Why does someone start abusing prescription pain killers? Are there trends we can uncover, data we can mine to stop substance misuse before it starts? At AbleTo, we work from a unique perspective, at the intersection of behavioral and medical health. We don’t look at those two worlds separately because we understand that they are not two worlds, but two sides of the same coin. Leveraging our platform, and big data insights, our nationwide network of therapists and coaches are primed to support the U.S. Surgeon General’s mission like no other company can claim, giving patients in need high-quality care, 24/7 access and proven outcomes.
The good news is that decades of research have led to proven interventions for the prevention, treatment, and recovery of substance misuse. Behavioral interventions, care coordination, and recovery support services are key components to treatment – this is where AbleTo adds value.
Four ways we are already making a positive impact in communities across the country:
- Preventative outreach: We proactively outreach to individuals which acute and chronic medical conditions, including individuals experiencing chronic pan. We screen all potential patients for both depression and substance use disorders. My interview with NewsWorks about suicide prevention illustrates how we operate in a way that respects the privacy of our participants while also providing the care they need, often before they know they need it.
- Spectrum of substance misuse: We effectively treat individuals with mild to moderate substance use disorders remotely and link those with severe use disorders to appropriate community care.
- Recovery and social support: The Surgeon General cites support groups as a reason for optimism. AbleTo offers participants in our substance abuse program the option of family consultation sessions and linkage to peer support. When treatment ends, recovery begins.
- Chronic pain: AbleTo offers a customized program to people suffering from chronic pain, teaching participants behavioral health interventions to manage chronic pain and reduce the amount of time patients may need to continue pain medication.
Kana Enomoto, Principal Deputy Administrator of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, called substance misuse “one of the critical public health problems of our time.” Ending substance abuse will not be an easy endeavor. It will require difficult conversations between doctors and patients, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters.
Yet, the Surgeon General is hopeful, and so are we. People in need have access to more behavioral and medical care than ever before. At AbleTo, we take this one step further, offering proactive, tech-enabled behavioral health to find, engage, and treat people who are at a higher likelihood of substance misuse, and ensuring they have the social support needed to thrive.
About Aimee Peters
Aimee is responsible for the hiring, training, and supervision of AbleTo’s therapists and coaches. Aimee Peters followed her passion and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) so she could assist individuals to overcome barriers to life aspirations. As AbleTo’s Chief Clinical Officer, Aimee leads the development and oversight of all clinical programs, as well as clinical training for AbleTo’s national therapist and behavior coach network. Prior to AbleTo, Aimee Peters developed clinical programs for agencies that specialize in improving the lives of children and families, and worked the continuum of care in the behavioral health department of a major New York Hospital. Aimee holds a B.A. from The Catholic University of America and a Master’s of Science degree in clinical social work from Columbia University.
The following article originally appeared on LinkedIn on October 26, 2016.
We are on the leading edge of a tidal wave of disruption in the delivery of behavioral health care. The truth is, we don’t really have a choice. The nation’s health depends on it.
The statistics are not uplifting. Just last week, a report released by the non-profit organization Mental Health America concluded that 20% of US adults (or 43.7 million people) experience a mental health condition and that more than half do not receive any treatment at all. In some states, the report indicates, there is only one behavioral health provider for every 1000 individuals, and that includes all therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined.
Yet decades of research has demonstrated the profound impact that behavioral health has on overall medical health. We have long known that emotional and physical health are interwoven and together dramatically worsen clinical outcomes, work productivity, and total cost of care to the tune of more than $200 billion dollars of unnecessary spend each year. It is absolutely clear that addressing behavioral health is a necessary prerequisite for fixing health care.
The following excerpt appeared in HR Dive on September 26, 2016. Click here to read the full article.
At a panel at the National Business Group on Health conference, the director employee benefits at Costco Wholesale, Donna Sexton, remembered how she felt when she looked into the data on her employees’ mental wellness.
The data revealed an average of two suicides a month over an 18 month period.
Her immediate reaction: “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Suicide not only deeply, irreversibly affects families, but filters through the whole ecosystem of the workplace, pushing the emotional, social and monetary cost of a single death “way beyond” other problems that may plague a workplace.
The mental health crisis is a “real thing employers are facing,” noted Dr. Steven Serra, senior medical director at Aetna. The delivery systems remains fragmented. Even at organizations like Aetna with large networks at their disposal, many employees face six months of wait time before they can meet with a psychiatrist, Serra added. When employees do not receive treatment, it drags down the entire organization on every front of wellness.
That means employers will need to follow an old wisdom: Spend more to save more. This technique involves what Dr. Reena Pande, Chief Medical Officer of AbleTo, calls “good utilization,” and it requires solid investment — and commitment — by employers in order to create positive outcomes.