The company breaks down barriers to accessible care

As we continue to feel the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for mental healthcare is at an all-time high. In America, one in five adults suffers from a mental health condition—and yet 60% still struggle with getting the care they need. One company that has taken a personal and holistic approach to increasing access to mental healthcare from day one is LifeStanceHealth. I recently sat down with Danish Qureshi, President and Chief Operating Officer of LifeStance, to talk about the elements required to create a truly accessible mental health care system, how behavioral healthcare needs to adapt to patient preferences, and how to leverage digital technology for patient improvement. The experience and what we can expect to see for the future of mental health care in 2023 and beyond.

Gary Drenick: How has your experience in healthcare prior to LifeStance shaped your passion and interest in mental healthcare?

Danish Qureshi: prior to joint incorporation LivestanceI’ve spent the last five years at another startup in the outpatient wound center space. We have grown this company into the second largest provider of wound care services in the country and successfully outgrown it into the single largest competitor in the industry. It was very rewarding to see the positive results and overall improvement in well-being that we provided to patients by expanding access to care in their communities. I was especially struck by the impact of successful results not only on their physical health, but also on their mental health. This was one of the first moments when I was inspired to start LifeStance.

The second point of inspiration was watching that when patients could not easily access care, it took a heavy toll on them mentally. Navigating the healthcare system can be challenging, and I’ve seen firsthand that access to healthcare (or lack thereof) can greatly affect someone’s overall mental health. Indeed, according to another Prosperity insights and analytics In the survey, only 17.7% of adults are completely happy with their health, underlining the need to deliver improved patient outcomes nationwide, regardless of specialty.

Outside of my professional experience in healthcare, the personal experiences I had with family and friends who struggled to access mental healthcare services played the greatest role in fueling my passion for reimagining mental health.

Drenick: LifeStance’s mission is to improve access to mental health care. How does LifeStance perform in this task? What about your unique business model?

Qureshi: First, it’s important to share some context about the pre-LifeStance mental health care landscape to understand the uniqueness of our model.

Historically, if you were sick and came to the very difficult realization that you might have a mental health condition that needed addressing, you would probably go to your primary care physician first. From there, your doctor might give you a list of 100 independent mental health clinicians in your area and tell you good luck and let them know how it goes.

If you had the perseverance to call out that list of 100 people, maybe 20 would answer. Of those twenty, most would say they have a waiting list of three to six months. If you have the patience to wait three to six months for an appointment, they will then tell you that you will have to pay cash, as the majority of independent mental health doctors do not accept insurance.

Therefore, if you have the perseverance, patience and financial means, you will show up on your first date. Let’s say the appointment is with a therapist, and after your session they say you might be a good candidate for administering medication. The cycle then repeats – they’ll probably give you a long list of psychiatrists to call up and say good luck, tell them how it goes, and you’ll be right back to the start of coordinating your care.

LifeStance is completely different – with just a click or a call, You can access a multidisciplinary group From over 5,000 mental health doctors nationwide, ensuring you can match with someone specifically trained in your diagnosis. LifeStance also offers a hybrid model, meaning patients can meet with a doctor virtually, in person, or both, which helps reduce the barrier to receiving care.

More importantly, LifeStance accepts insurance, which is the standard in all other healthcare specialties, but in behavioral healthcare is a real differentiator.

When you compare LifeStance’s ease of immediate access to a wide range of in-network providers with subspecialties Depending on your unique diagnosisand they are all willing to meet you in person or virtually, that’s a day and night difference compared to the industry baseline.

Drenick: The pandemic changed the way people approach treatment. How do you see this affecting the way patients access care going forward?

QureshiThe silver lining of the pandemic is that it has accelerated the healthcare sector’s use of telemedicine and advances in technology approaches. Telemedicine has been a game-changer in terms of improving convenience and making patients more likely to stick to their plan of care. While telemedicine remains an important option for patients, the demand for in-person care is returning very quickly. However, we firmly believe that the level of telemedicine services will remain high compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Because LifeStance was specifically designed to provide blended care, we are agnostic as to where a patient may seek care. We can meet patients wherever they are while allowing our physicians to have a more flexible and balanced case count, which represents Our doctors benefit from it, too. At the end of the day, we’re not trying to force patients or doctors into one place or the other. It’s really about providing that flexibility depending on what’s best for their unique situation.

This has never been more important, according to himself Prosperity insights and analytics In the survey, 51% of adults believe their mental health has been negatively affected by the pandemic resulting in increased feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. We are facing a mental health crisis, and it is critical that reliable, affordable, and personalized mental health care be readily available.

Drenick: How do you see digital tools as an important part of the patient experience?

Qureshi: This is a particular area of ​​focus for LifeStance as we look forward to the future. We’re very focused on our overall digital experience and telemedicine platform and how that impacts the entire patient journey. This means everything from the first time they seek care and book an appointment, to how they receive care, to follow-up between appointments as well as staying in touch after completing a care plan – this whole experience and journey is something we invest in and believe in a digital-forward approach to both the patient and clinician experience.

Drenick: As an industry leader, what are some ways that executives can prioritize their mental health and set a positive precedent within their organization?

Qureshi: I think it’s important to lead by example. Ensure that mental health is a constant topic of conversation brought up across your organisation, starting with senior leaders. It’s also important to demonstrate your commitment to mental health in the workplace by investing in programs that promote mental health and overall wellness. It’s a tough challenge, but over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen how important it is to destigmatize mental health, and that includes the workplace.

Drenick: Thank you Danish for this vision and the work LifeStance is doing to reimagine mental health care through affordable, technology-enabled, personalized care.

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