Fairview Health Services is ramping up its efforts to address behavioral health issues with the debut of a new service called Behavioral Health & Well-Being. A creation of the Minneapolis-based health care provider’s Employer Solutions arm, the service gives companies the option to bring in an in-office behavioral health professional to exclusively treat its employees.
Believed to be the first program of its kind in the Twin Cities, Fairview’s new offering is meant to streamline and enhance care beyond the standard employee assistance programs (EAPs) that businesses currently use. Instead of an employee seeking treatment through a general counselor, who may refer them to a third-party professional for long-term support, Fairview’s service intends to treat an employee’s needs more quickly and directly.
“We want to be able to get people quick and easy access, and then work to resolve the issue so they don’t need to access another type of behavioral health provider,” says Rene’ Coult-Calendine, Fairview’s vice president of market and product development. “The goal of the program is to really hold someone’s hand through the whole [treatment] process.”
Coult-Calendine tells TCB that a business would decide to buy the Fairview service based on employee needs. Fairview would help the business assess exactly what behavioral health issues their employees are experiencing, and then assign a licensed professional to the company – to work on-site, ideally, but that is up to the employer. Other delivery options include having the professional at a nearby clinic or be available virtually or via phone.
The professional will provide on-going support to the individual or individuals until their behavioral health situation was fully resolved, with a concierge aspect included in the service to schedule all appointments and devise a treatment plan for those who need it. Even after the behavioral issues appear to be resolved, the program continues with well-being check-ins and long-term monitoring.
Fairview will also offer continuous annual education opportunities and related resources so that the employer and employees understand the service and its benefits.
Coult-Calendine says that the service will alleviate inefficiencies and challenges faced by both patients and businesses when it comes to behavioral health.
For the patient, one of the biggest circumstances they encounter is not knowing where to go to access a professional, so they go to the emergency room – an unnecessary and often significant cost burden. If the individual goes through their employer’s EAP professional, they often get referred elsewhere and have to tell their story all over again, delaying getting the treatment they need.
For the employer, those roundabout access points means troublesome claims costs. And though the price tag of the Behavioral Health & Well-Being service will be higher upfront than standard EAPs, it’s expected to save money for businesses in the long run by eliminating those claims costs – as well as by providing the long-term support that will help prevent relapse.
Fairview’s creation of the service stems partly from statistics: According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, behavioral health costs alone cost U.S. employers $225 billion per year in lost productivity, and costs and conditions worsen with delayed treatment, neglect or insufficient treatment of behavioral health issues.
But Fairview’s program also stems from years of conversations between it and the businesses it’s served with its other employer solutions.
While separate results of those conversations address other needs – for example, Fairview recently introduced a virtual care program, and a sleep-focused program – the Behavioral Health & Well-Being service tackles a particularly difficult and complex space.
Rene' Coult-Calendine, Fairview's vice president of market and product development. (Photo courtesy of Fairview Health Services)
“This space is really challenging for [employers, so] we designed a model that really addresses the issues they’ve spoken to us about,” says Coult-Calendine. “The idea being that we don’t want any [individuals] to fall through the cracks. We want them to get the right care they need.”
Fairview has officially launched the program, with two behavioral health professionals already hired and an administrative infrastructure in place. Coult-Calendine says as they add more corporate clients, they’ll bring in more professionals and administrators to meet demands.
Their goal is to start meeting directly with employers after the holidays and quickly begin implementing the program into those businesses.
Two anticipated challenges she notes is getting employers to understand what the product is designed to do, and making employees feel comfortable utilizing the resource.
“We have to set up the right kind of confidential environment and infrastructure so employees feel safe and protected,” says Coult-Calendine. “We want people to come and get the service but it has to feel confidential and private so they will be comfortable enough to do so.”
The Behavioral Health & Well-Being service will be available to employees’ families as well, for spouses and children over the age of 13, and will incorporate a wide network of providers including Fairview and non-Fairview care providers.