Headspace Health is keeping an eye on value-based care and new legislation as it continues its push into the employer and payer space.
It’s been roughly nine months since digital health company Headspace merged with virtual mental health company Ginger making a $3 billion company. The joint company, Headspace Health, is now positioning itself to offer a continuum of care for enterprise clients.
The company’s deal with Cigna is a prime example of its plans for an integrated future. The partnership could also provide insights into digital behavioral health care, which could pave the way for value-based care moving forward.
Behavioral Health Business sat down with Headspace Health Senior Vice President of Partnerships Katie DiPerna to talk about the merger, value-based care and legislation to watch coming down the pipeline.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
BHB: I’d love to talk a little bit about some of the changes that happened since that merger. Where are you seeing the company go in the future?
DiPerna: I spend everyday talking to the market, talking to payers, and employers and providers. And as soon as I say that I’m from Headspace Health, and talk about the merger, everybody gets it instantly. That makes a lot of sense. It’s a full spectrum of services now that a member can [access] whether it’s self-directed care through Headspace’s mindfulness meditation, the text-based coaching, all the way through clinical services, therapy and psychiatry. What’s really interesting, too, is that people can move between those journeys over time.
This year, we’re focused on executing for our existing customers and our existing partners. This summer, we’re starting to roll out some connected opportunities. So for our enterprise employer customers, there’ll be one implementation unified way that members can access, integrating reporting, things like that, trying to create some connected experiences.
BHB: Is there any legislation that you are watching right now? In terms of maybe CMS or other [regulations]?
I would put our regulatory watching in a couple of buckets. I mean, obviously, there’s been a tremendous push towards reimbursement and across licensing. So keeping that consistent that this is the future, let’s not go back. We’re seeing how many people are benefiting from that access.
So, continuing to make sure that our policy reflects the need for these services to continue to be reimbursed and covered. And that some of the changes made post pandemic stay.
Another piece that’s a little bit more specific, in California, for example, we’re seeing an interesting regulation around the actual delivery of services: how quickly you need to offer follow up appointment times once somebody has been referred, how quickly you need to get them into care. And so really being able to make sure that we’ve built our infrastructure to respond, as we expect that may be adopted by other states.
Lastly, this is probably more futuristic but thinking about self content, self-directed care, mindfulness, meditation as a covered benefits. Essentially, can we get to a state where CMS is actually reimbursing for access to Headspace and ongoing usage of Headspace content? You know, we were already seeing some plans move [towards that]. For example, our partnership with Cigna, they are reimbursing us for coaching, which was something new for a national plan to do that.
BHB: It seems like one of the challenges with employer space is adoption [of the point solution]. … How are you dealing with that?
DiPerna: We just released our annual survey on workplace attitudes towards mental health. And, I mean, there’s a number of pretty stunning statistics in there, but one that really stood out to me was that 70% of employees are saying that they have missed a day of work or more, because of stress, burnout and other mental health-related issues.
… the Headspace for Work products, they see up to 20% engagement in the platform.
BHB: So 20% of the employees they’re offering it to are using it?
Yes, it’s a really engaging front door, to get people to start to engage in their own mental health care. And so we see that as a way in which we can get people into the system more upstream. And then over time, that would also drive, better engagement and Ginger [usages], as well.
BHB: Are you interested in value-based care? Has this come up at all?
DiPerna: My background is in value-based care. So before I came to Ginger, I spent eight and a half years working in various risk arrangements, with payers, and providers, everything from early-stage shared-savings models, ACO demonstrations, all the way through capitated models. So, I’m definitely very passionate about this topic.
I think that something’s going to have to give. Reimbursement for therapy and psychiatry rates are not going up at the rate that it costs to pay the salaries or to maintain these platforms. …
To me, it feels like we’re in very early stages. We’re a year into our partnership with Cigna, we’re starting to really study the clinical outcomes, really understand what’s working and what’s not.
And then I think that could serve as a basis for moving up the sort of risk-based spectrum where maybe we move into some form of bundled payments where we’re taking on some of the risk over time, but I think we’re still the industry as a whole is still at a very early stage on that front.