- Health benefits platform Accolade tapped Ginger to offer mental health services to its employer partners.
- And digital mental health companies can provide value to sectors across the healthcare ecosystem.
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Health benefits company Accolade partnered with fast-growing telemental health startup Ginger to roll out app-based mental health offerings as an additional benefit to its 1.7 million members via employer partnerships.
Accolade's platform will be enhanced with Ginger's on-demand mental health services, giving its corporate partners' employees access to virtual therapy, psychiatry, and mental health coaching services. Alliances between employers and telemental health firms are beneficial for businesses and employees alike.
The pandemic could cause a surge in employer medical spending—and incorporating mental health services into benefits packages can help curb costs. Earlier this year, 77% of employers expressed their intention to augment their suite of health offerings to include digital mental health services.
We're seeing this come to fruition: For example, Cigna tapped Talkspace to offer digital therapy services to its 14 million members, and Kaiser gave its members access to Livongo's mental health tools. Including these additional benefits could curtail employer spending since mental health issues can instigate physical health problems—poor mental health has been linked to gastrointestinal problems, for instance—which can ultimately drive up healthcare costs.
Meanwhile, telemental health solutions can boost health outcomes for employees amid the pandemic-induced mental health crisis. Fifty-three percent of adults in the US said their mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and this has been reflected in higher telemental health usage—Ginger reported a 265% spike in use for its mental health services compared with pre-pandemic rates, for instance.
As the mental health crisis intensifies for as long as the pandemic rages on, we expect telemental health companies to permeate across the entire healthcare ecosystem. The US mental health crisis was expected to cost the healthcare system $238 billion by the end of this year, though that number is certainly being exacerbated by the pandemic's adverse effects.
This financial strain, compounded by the impending psychiatrist shortage, brings to light the dire need to improve access to mental healthcare, which can largely be facilitated digitally.
As the demand for digital mental health solutions rises, other players in the healthcare ecosystem also have a vested interest in making investments in telemental health solutions: For example, hospitals could merge telepsychiatry services with remote monitoring tools to enhance health tracking to reduce adverse events, and we've already seen pharma cos like Boehringer Ingelheim invest in mental health digital therapies as a more cost-effective alternative to drugs.
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