Perspective: Digitally enabled health | Capability: Digital platforms | By: Hossam Mahmoud, MD, Regional Chief Medical Officer - Carelon
Digital technology is enhancing how care managers address members’ needs, especially within behavioral health. Hossam Mahmoud, MD, a regional chief medical officer at Carelon, shares how one platform-powered program advances care management by putting members’ whole health front and center.
Digital technology is rapidly evolving and has become a desired tool for a range of experiences. People have grown accustomed to digital platforms that make it easier and more convenient to navigate many areas of their lives, and they increasingly want a similar experience with their healthcare.
At Carelon, we partner with health plans to offer high-quality, user-friendly digital programs that deliver behavioral health support when and where people need it. We understand the value of engaging patients; we empower them to take better control of their mental health and well-being by providing personalized care in a digital format.
One of these programs, concierge care, enhances care management offered to health plan members to help deliver whole-health care. It is changing the way care management is delivered. The program’s digital delivery system is an app for concierge-like care that puts the member at the center and allows the care manager to address our member’s health as a whole.
The program considers both behavioral and physical health, addressing a range of chronic conditions, including Crohn’s Disease, cancer, heart failure, COVID, Type 2 Diabetes, high-risk maternity, depression, anxiety, and more. For members in the behavioral health version of the program, they use standardized screening tools and questionnaires in the app to log and track their behavioral health symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness, levels of motivation, fatigue, and the severity of anxiety.
Through the app, the program also provides members with curated educational materials and self-directed health exercises, such as breathing and mindfulness exercises, based on their health needs. Its multi-use feature makes it simple for individuals to track meals, log activities, set personal goals, and develop customized plans all in one place. Members can also communicate with their care management team at any time via the app’s chat feature, text capabilities, or phone call. This high-tech, high-touch, prompt, and personalized care means members can get their questions or concerns addressed in real time by someone who knows them and can give feedback, support, and guidance on their personal health conditions.
One component of the concierge care app I find especially significant is its ability to employ screening tools for measurement-based care. These tools allow us and our health plan partners to track how someone is doing in a more sophisticated and standardized way beyond “I’m feeling well” or “I’m not feeling so well.” The opportunity to collect and measure specific symptomology is invaluable. Data can help anticipate health plan members’ needs and propose interventions customized to better address such needs. The program’s care managers can seamlessly intervene based on that critical information, especially if they see increasing symptoms or have immediate concerns and move quickly to connect members with resources and support.
The concierge care program provides members with an additional layer of support to improve whole-health outcomes. It also enables members to play a more active role in managing their health. The proactive monitoring of symptoms by care managers allows for rapid, real-time support, guiding members to the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
Digital technologies like those used in the concierge care program play an important role in care management and build on our whole-health approach to addressing healthcare’s complex challenges. With an integrated, tech-enabled, member-focused approach to care, we can work with partners to deliver better outcomes and a better consumer experience for those we serve.
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Hossam Mahmoud, MD, is regional chief medical officer at Carelon. He leads the overall direction of the regional strategy to optimize behavioral health, improve whole-person health outcomes, and implement innovative approaches to enhance access to behavioral healthcare.