Johns Hopkins Health Plans Prioritizes Mental Health
Access, integration and coordination are critical elements
As we conclude National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July), it’s a great time to have conversations around – and highlight available resources for – mental well-being. Johns Hopkins Health Plans understands the importance of mental and behavioral health as inseparable from overall well-being. From access to integration to coordination, we are ensuring our health plan members have what they need for quality health outcomes.
Getting plan members to care is the first priority. As Johns Hopkins Health Plans’ Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marketa Wills says, transforming the perception of mental health care — and who can benefit from it — is a critical barrier.
“We all realize how critically important emotional and mental wellness is and how fragile it can be,” Dr. Wills said. “First and foremost, bringing that concept to the forefront and destigmatizing the treatment of behavioral health issues and making it something that’s just as important as physical health. That’s number one: destigmatizing.”
Another barrier can be what to do when someone decides to seek care. Without the ability to find a therapist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional — or if the process is too difficult — can make individuals abandon their search. It starts with having a robust network of behavioral health providers and coverage that allows members to have necessary visits without overly burdensome cost shares.
Timely access to care is also important. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins Health Plans collaborated with Johns Hopkins Medicine to launch Johns Hopkins OnDemand Virtual Care and provide access to the telehealth service to all health plan members. This service is beneficial when members cannot get an appointment with their primary care provider or need to quickly connect about a minor health care concern.
Telehealh also expands access to behavioral health services and can help overcome the getting-started barrier. The convenience of connecting from home or wherever a patient is provides more scheduling options. Additionally, for some patients, the prospect of having another component of privacy by not being in an office setting is appealing.
As a psychiatrist herself, Dr. Wills knows that behavioral health and physical health cannot be separated.
“Integration is bringing that concept to work,” she said. “It means recognizing that our brains are attached to bodies, and that there’s so much interplay between physical and behavioral health. Whole-person, patient-centric health takes into account these factors, social determinants of health, where people live…and more.”
Johns Hopkins Health Plans has contributed grant funding to local organizations to address social determinants of health, health inequity and more, all factors that play an important part in overall health. Plus, as a provider-sponsored health plan, Johns Hopkins Health Plans is ideally situated to leverage the research, innovation, and care delivery expertise of Johns Hopkins to facilitate better alignment between its health plan and provider network.
Guiding individuals through all of their health care requires a tremendous amount of collaboration. With the member at the center of the health care experience, Johns Hopkins Health Plans uses care coordination and care management strategies to improve communication between primary care providers and specialists. Combined with improved information sharing, this coordination improves health outcomes.
Johns Hopkins Health Plans provides behavioral health care management services, connecting members with resources and/or professionals. This work also includes medication review, education and other services based on member needs.
Hear more about Johns Hopkins Health Plans’ commitment to health care integration and behavioral health in a podcast episode featuring Dr. Wills.