Helping Providers Through the Power of Pre-Screening

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By Visar Tasimi, Vice President of Provider Success

Mental health professionals are stretched to the limit, trying to help as many patients as they can amid record demand for their services. With a limited number of qualified professionals, and only so much time in the day for them to conduct appointments, widening gaps in care can be extremely frustrating — especially for people who have dedicated their careers to helping others through life’s challenges.

This is why pre-screening patients has become extremely important. In order to maximize the time providers spend on care and ensure they connect with patients who match their specialties, better screening and referrals are essential.

The first session with a new patient will always be used to ensure the “right fit,” but there’s a lot that can happen before an initial meeting that will enable a faster path to care. For example, identifying the mental health conditions patients face and ensuring they’re referred to a provider in the appropriate specialty area is a seemingly obvious first step that doesn’t always happen. Other elements like geography, cultural aspects, or a therapist’s success treating patients in certain clinical areas — even if they’re not within a specific specialty — can also be considered.

Ultimately, a more robust pre-screening process will help avoid a mismatch. When this occurs, it delays care for a patient and takes a provider’s time away from others they’re better suited to help. By going into the first session with a high degree of certainty that there will be a good patient-provider match, patients can start their journey to wellness sooner, and providers can fulfill their desire to successfully help more people.

Visar Tasimi

“In the end, the pre-screening we do to ensure the right members are quickly referred to the right providers is a win-win for both sides of the therapeutic relationship.”

Visar Tasimi – Vice President of Provider Success at Lucet

How Providers Can Help Themselves

Most providers have procedures in place to screen potential patients before the first meeting. They either conduct screeners themselves or through a support staff to avoid the unfortunate event of a mismatch. But this takes time and resources away from where their efforts are better spent – treating patients.

Instead, providers can move important elements of the screening process “upstream” to organizations making the referral — namely, payers. Conventional wisdom may suggest that only providers are in a position to screen the patients they see, but that discounts the fact that payers have access to clinical, claims and other unique data that can be used in new ways to suggest the right match and ease some of the burden placed on providers. In addition, they’re often the first call a person makes for help. That initial person-to-person contact can be supplemented with training and technology that will quickly put patients on the right path to the right care.   

Providers can also seek to join payer networks that implement effective pre-screening, or encourage their current payer networks to adopt these practices. Effective pre-screening can include two key elements: universal predictive screening and smart care matching.  

Universal predictive screening is an important first step that helps reduce stigma, increases detection of behavioral health care needs, and in turn, plays a significant role in improving outcomes. Coupling universal screening with smart care matching based on acuity, type of behavioral health provider and various other factors is a proven formula for helping providers connect and grow stronger therapeutic relationships with more members.

How Providers (And Patients) Win

Through Lucet’s Navigate & Connect solution, clinically trained care navigators greet members who call into our Care Center, then guide each one through a standardized risk screening and matching process using our technology platform.

When Lucet implemented universal screening for one of our health plan partners, we found a 152% increase in the number of members identified as at-risk or with complex conditions who were triaged to a clinician for further assessment. A full 15% of incoming calls required clinician intervention.

When at-risk members are identified, the key to timely escalation is our smart care matching through Navigate & Connect. By combining universal screening with smart care matching, people who receive care through Lucet have averaged a 40% improvement in their Behavioral Health Index (BHI) score.

In the end, the pre-screening we do to ensure the right members are quickly referred to the right providers is a win-win for both sides of the therapeutic relationship. With a faster path to care, more time treating members they’re in a position to help, less time on administrative tasks, and fewer “false starts” where the match isn’t quite right, providers can have a bigger impact on more people. While improving more members’ lives, they’re also improving their own and making the work they do more fulfilling.

Visar Tasimi is vice president of provider success at Lucet.

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