SilverCloud Health recently teamed up with Cerner Corporation to give more people better access to on-demand, personalized mental health tools and treatment. As part of the partnership, SilverCloud will integrate its platform into Cerner’s electronic health record (EHR).
The goal of the agreement is to scale mental health treatment, lower the cost of care and improve patient outcomes. But from a big picture perspective, the partnership signifies the increasingly important role digital mental health solutions have to play in the future of behavioral health care delivery.
“The partnership has essentially … enabled Cerner clinicians to prescribe — natively within their current workflows — access to scientifically backed, digitally delivered therapeutic care,” SilverCloud CEO Ken Cahill told Behavioral Health Business. “It’s a continuation of that movement … [toward] the future state of the world, where we [will be] looking back in 10 years or even five years time and [asking:] ‘Why wouldn’t we deliver access to behavioral health mental health care digitally?’”
Headquartered in Boston, SilverCloud is a digital mental health company that provides remote, computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. It works with providers, health care plans and employers to deliver clinically validated digital health and therapeutic care. More than 300 organizations worldwide use SilverCloud.
Meanwhile, Cerner is a health care IT company based in North Kansas City, Missouri. It’s one of the largest EHR vendors in the nation, controlling more than a quarter of the market, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.
Cerner’s Director of Behavioral Health Danny Gladden said the company’s partnership with SiverCloud comes in response to the supply-demand mismatch in behavioral health.
While one in five Americans struggle with a diagnosable mental health condition, less than half of those people get care due to barriers such as cost, stigma and a severe shortage of behavioral health providers. But digital treatment can help solve those problems.
As a result of the Cerner-SilverCloud integration, clinicians and providers who use Cerner’s EHR can direct their patients to SilverCloud’s self-guided digital interventions, immediately giving them access to remote, on-demand behavioral health help.
“The reality is the burden of untreated mental health conditions — both prior to and during the pandemic — is significant and rapidly growing,” Gladden told BHB. “We hope that scaling access to care can be an effective way to have a greater impact both on the cost of care and clinical [outcomes].”
The partnership essentially gives Cerner’s providers another tool to meet the nation’s growing mental health needs, while eliminating common barriers to care. While self-guided, digital interventions like the ones SilverCloud provides aren’t right for everyone, they can be especially effective for people with lower-level needs.
“I’m not saying it’s a silver bullet for all, but we are saying it is a silver bullet for most,” Cahill said.
SilverCloud isn’t the only provider attempting to improve the nation’s mental health with digital therapeutics. Amid the COVID-19 emergency, the digital behavioral health space has seen a flood of new entrants and investors. But it’s just a drop in the bucket in terms of what’s needed to help address the nation’s behavioral health crisis, Cahill said.
“We’ve seen an influx of apps and tools in this space, but we’re still quite a ways off from being able to say we’ve won [this mental health battle],” Cahill said. “The size of the challenge … is just so vast, large and significant. The number of new entrants into the space is not in any way a negative, but a positive.”
But not every digital behavioral health provider is created equal. Cahill stressed the importance of providing digital behavioral health offerings that are evidence-based and clinically validated, in addition to being proven in terms of security, privacy and data rigor.
In fact, SilverCloud recently made those recommendations publicly, co-authoring a paper by the Banbury Forum on Digital Mental Health recently published in the American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric Services journal. The goal of the paper — which was written by a group of international stakeholders — is to increase the adoption of digital mental health treatment in the U.S.
Other recommendations include:
- Offering digital mental health treatment to all patients experiencing depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD.
- Making digital mental health products and services reimbursable.
- Developing an evidence standards framework to support digital formularies and decision making.
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