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Reducing Costs and Improving Lives

With digitally enhanced access to mental health resources

Abstract

Substantial research exists about the cost of behavioral health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression in the workforce. Studies show that the personal toll on employees and the financial cost to companies could be eased if a greater number of workers who need treatment were able to access it. While nearly all employer-sponsored benefit plans include mental health coverage, nearly half of those with behavioral health challenges do not seek or receive treatment. Rising costs have brought with them the pressing need to identify beneficial, cost-effective solutions including early access to behavioral health resources, and appropriate treatment. Concern is a forward-thinking behavioral health company that has partnered with Medullan to devise an innovative solution to this rising problem. That solution, Luma, is built on Medullan’s platform VARA™. It leverages a digital experience combined with high touch services to reach employees earlier, help them overcome some of the barriers to care, and guide them on a customized path to personal wellbeing.

Introduction

Roughly 217 million days of work are lost annually to productivity declines related to mental illness and substance abuse, at a cost of $17 billion. Many of those days are lost to short- and long-term disability due to depression, which ranks 7th in a national survey of employers and the greatest cause of productivity loss among workers.

The cost to employers for workers with depression is estimated at $6,000 per depressed worker per year.

People with mental health conditions make six times as many emergency room visits as the overall population.

Individuals with behavioral health issues are more likely to make poor choices that contribute to medical problems, including smoking, excessive alcohol or drug use, poor eating habits, and reckless behavior.

Barriers to Care

While nearly all employer-sponsored benefit plans include mental health coverage, nearly half of those with behavioral health challenges do not seek or receive treatment.

Too often, mental and behavioral health issues are associated with personal failure or bad choices rather than treatable conditions or diseases. That stigma often prevents employees from seeking treatment out of fear that they may jeopardize their jobs. As a result, many behavioral health issues go unrecognized or untreated.

Exacerbating the issue is a shortage of providers. While effective treatments are available, it may be difficult for individuals to access the care they need. Often behavioral health network providers are unavailable, or there are long wait times.

Quantifying the Cost of Depression

  • Approximately 6-7% of full time US workers experienced major depression (MDD) within the past year
  • Total economic burden of MDD is now estimated to be $210.5 billion per year
  • For every dollar spent on MDD direct costs, an additional$1.90 is spent on MDD-related indirect costs

Source: American Psychiatric Associa on, Emily A Kuhl, PhD
Center for Workplace Mental Health

Comorbidity

Depression and physical disorders are commonly comorbid. That comorbidity is related to poor quality of life and greater disability than when depression or a medical disease is present alone, further complicating care and increasing costs.

Individuals diagnosed with depression have nearly twice the annual healthcare costs of those without depression.

Up to one third of patients with chronic illnesses, such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease, have symptoms of depression. Patients with type 2 diabetes have nearly double the risk of depression.

Research suggests that individuals who have depression and another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both illnesses. (National Institutes of Mental Health)

Intervention

While depression is a prevalent and disabling condition, it’s highly treatable. The earlier the treatment, the more effective the outcome. Early recognition, intervention and support can promote remission, prevent relapse and reduce the emotional and financial burden of the disease.

A 2016 study by the World Health Organization showed that every dollar invested in mental health treatment sees a $4 return based on better health and ability to work.11 Another demonstrated that every dollar invested in depression treatment was associated with a $2.61 decrease in the cost of treating physical problems.

Demand and cost for healthcare is rising, challenging employers to find creative solutions. Technology is seen as an integral part of the solution. Digital tools in particular are advancing rapidly and the cost is dropping.

Fifty-six percent of American adults with a mental illness did not seek or receive appropriate treatment in 2017. A radical change is called for in the way we approach mental health issues—access, cost, early intervention, better outcomes—so that anyone who needs care can get it before their condition becomes severe. Digital technology can help by enabling easy access to self-help tools and mental health professionals.

Meet Luma™

A digital mental health hub for enhanced support and expanded reach

Digital technology is transforming health care. Luma by Concern represents the next generation in mental health, enabling easy access to licensed professionals, self-help tools and digital therapeutics — all in one personalized destination.

Luma is a user friendly interactive mental health hub, with a strong core set of resources and the capacity for unlimited integrations with 3rd party digital therapeutics and tools. It is a one-stop member guide to personalized behavioral health and life balance services and solutions.

Luma reduces stigma and member confusion on how to access behavioral health services. It creates a confidential personalized care plan, leading to more proactive and cost-effective management of mental health and physical health conditions.

  • Low cost, evidence-based solution
  • Minimizes use of avoidable high-cost treatments
  • Enables easy, confidential access
  • Delivers high engagement
  • Promotes patient independence
  • Emphasizes prevention
  • Provides personalized solutions for every level of risk
  • Guides to appropriate level of care
  • Ensures smooth transition from one level of service to another
  • Improves overall outcomes
  • Built on VARA™, an enterprise-grade Healthcare Consumer Engagement Hub platform


References

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  2. Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases. 2009 Almanac of Chronic Disease. The Impact of Chronic Disease on US Health and Prosperity. http://www.fightchronicdisease...
  3. Greenberg PE, Kessler RX, Nells TL, et al. Depression in the Workplace: An Economic Perspective. In Feightner JP, Boyers WF, eds. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: Advances in Basic Research and Clinical Practice. Second edition. New York. Wiley and Sons; 1996.
  4. Aetna Behavioral Health Quality Management Bulletin. Health & Science. CNBC, September 27, 2018. LaVito A. Anxiety is expensive: Employee mental health costs rise twice as fast as all other medical expenses.
  5. SAMHSA. Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness. May 29, 2018. https://www.samhsa.gov/prevent...
  6. Chonnam Medical Journal. 2015 Apr; 51(1): 8-18. Published online April 14, 2015. doi; (10.4068/cmj.2015.51.1.8)
  7. Simon G, Ormel J, VonKorff M, Barlow W. Health Care Costs Associated with Depressive and Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care. American Journal Psychiatry. 1995;152:352-357.
  8. WebMD. 2018. Dealing with Chronic Illnesses and Depression. https://www.webmd.com/depressi...
  9. Jovinelly, J. Reviewed by Pletcher, P MS, RD, LD, CDE. 2016, October 21. Is There a Link Between Diabetes and Depression? Know the Facts. Healthline.com.
  10. Haflin A MD. The Benefits of Early and Appropriate Treatment. American Journal of Managed Care. 2007,13:S92-S97.
  11. Chisholm D, Sweeny K, Sheehan P, et al. Scaling-up Treatment of Depression and Anxiety: A Global Return on Investment Analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. May 1, 2016 (5):415-24. doi: 10:106/S22
  12. Rost K, Fortney J, Zhang M, Smith J, Smith GR Jr. Treatment of Depression in Rural Arkansas: Policy Implications for Improving Care. Rural Health. Summer 1999, 15(3) 308-15.
  13. Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions. Taylor K. 2015. How digital technology is transforming health and social care.

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