Evernorth Establishes Behavioral Health Group, Emphasizing Value-Based Approach

Cigna’s (NYSE:CI) health service division Evernorth has launched a new behavioral health care group.

Evernorth Behavioral Health Group will launch with over 1,000 clinicians and guarantee patients an appointment within 72 hours. According to Evernorth data, the industry average wait time is 48 days.

“When I think about the impetus of the care group, it’s really to accomplish enabling broader access to quality in network clinicians while advancing value-based care,” Eva Borden, president of behavioral health at Evernorth, told Behavioral Health Business. “So we’re focused on a few things. One is how we enable access to care faster, and that’s where we really put the average of 72 hours in place to make sure that we’re accomplishing that in conjunction with online scheduling. The second part that we’re focused on is reducing the administrative burden for clinicians.”

Photo credit: Cigna

Patients can schedule an appointment online and fill in their goals and needs and be matched with an appropriate clinician. The behavioral health group, available nationwide in 2025, will offer in-person and virtual care. Borden said the goal is to be a hybrid care provider.

The network will also take on some of the “cumbersome” administrative tasks for providers. Evernorth tapped virtual care provider Octave to help it create the practice infrastructure, recruit clinicians and boost the care delivery experience.

In June, Octave closed a $52 million Series C funding round led by Cigna Ventures.


Evernorth Behavioral Health Group clinicians will use the company’s behavioral health measurement program. This program helps track care metrics, including time to care. Borden said this can help move towards value-based care arrangements.

“Evernorth Health Services has the opportunity to use data to answer big questions, such as what the value of behavioral health care is,” Borden said. “Knowing those outcomes, we can then take on risk and contract differently.”

During Cigna’s investor call this morning, Borden highlighted the savings associated with timely access to behavioral health care. For example, care within one month of a behavioral health diagnosis resulted in a 15% reduction in the total cost of care.

Photo credit: Evernorth

Before this announcement Evernorth had over 40,000 clinicians on value-based care arrangements.

“Quality behavioral health care is critical to a person’s overall health and vitality, and we are relentlessly focused on connecting patients quickly and easily with clinicians that match their goals and preferences,” Amy Ayrault, president of Evernorth Behavioral Care Group, said in a statement. “By creating a simple care experience, patients can focus on feeling better, and clinicians can focus on delivering best-in-class care.”

The new behavioral health group will take care of Cigna members, as well as members of other health plans and employer groups.

Evernorth isn’t the ‘payvider’ to offer a behavioral health group. For example, in 2020, Elevance (NYSE: ELV) purchased behavioral health provider Beacon Health Options. Last year, Beacon rebranded to Carelon Behavioral Health, bringing the brand closer to its health service division, Carelon.

UnitedHealth has also expanded its behavioral health reach in recent years. In 2022, it purchased outpatient behavioral health provider Refresh Mental Health.

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