Headway has announced its national expansion through partnerships with over 25 payers across the country.
The digital behavioral health company’s payer partners, Evernorth, Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, plan to go live with Headway in all 50 states and D.C.
Headway works with payers to help their members connect to mental health services that are in-network. The startup also works with behavioral health providers by supplying them with a suite of free technology products to help with administrative tasks.
The national expansion stems from payer partners seeking to broaden behavioral health access for their members. With clients and members in all 50 states, national plans have historically felt the demand for access across the country. However, more regional payers are also prioritizing a larger geographical footprint.
“I think maybe even less intuitive is how much Blues plans care about having a national network,” Olivia Davis, chief commercial officer of Headway, told Behavioral Health Business. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is a really good example. [Many] of their membership now lives outside of Massachusetts. So while, I think historically, they’ve been associated with local care, they’re really thinking about things from a national level.”
One of Headway’s main focuses is eliminating ghost networks, which are inaccurate or out-of-date network provider listings.
“One of the big things [payers] look to us to do is have accurate reporting and visibility into the availability of their networks,” Davis said.
Ghost networks have plagued the behavioral health industry for some time. A recent secret shopper study by the Senate Committee on Finance found that over 80% of mental health provider listings on Medicare Advantage directories are inaccurate or unavailable.
Headway’s model also aims to tackle ghost networks from the provider side by making it easier for mental health clinicians, especially solo providers, to get in-network with larger payers.
“It’s not that the providers don’t want to accept insurance. It’s that they can’t when they are a solo provider, which overwhelmingly, about 80% are,” Davis said. “They don’t have the back office staff to handle dealing with insurance. So we do all of that through the platform.”
To help aid Headway’s national expansion efforts, the company is building new technology to support mental health providers licensed in multiple states who can provide care across state lines. Headway works with in-person and virtual providers.
Davis notes that over 25% of Headway’s providers are licensed in multiple states.
“We can leverage our clinicians in multiple markets,” Davis said. “I think for us, it’s a balance of wanting to ensure clinicians can practice multiple markets and ensure continuity of care. We often hear about patients that move from one state to another and want to stay with their provider but aren’t able to because they moved.”
While Headway is building new systems to support therapists with multiple licenses, the organization still prioritizes building local networks for people to access care in their community, Davis said.
“We also want to balance it with the fact that we also really believe in a lot of health care being local and our emphasis to date has been on building dense local networks,” Davis said, “so that we are not a small number of providers in a state or just a bunch of telehealth providers that are licensed in every state.”
New York-based Headway was founded in 2019. In October, the company scored $125 million in a Series C funding round led by Spark Capital. The company’s total valuation is now over $1 billion.