‘It Gives Me Goosebumps’ — How Quartet Health’s New Virtual Clinic is Impacting Communities

Three leaders describe the innovation, collaboration and impact driving the company’s new virtual behavioral healthcare clinic.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on Dec. 28, 2022
‘It Gives Me Goosebumps’ — How Quartet Health’s New Virtual Clinic is Impacting Communities
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When one patient came to Quartet Health’s virtual behavioral healthcare clinic in a moment of crisis earlier this year, the team knew exactly what to do. 

Upon being referred by her case manager, the individual was connected with one of the clinic’s nurse care managers, who quickly de-escalated the situation. The case manager meeting, subsequent referral, connection to the clinic and de-escalation all occurred in the span of 24 hours.

This fast-paced, critical support is exactly what the clinic was established to provide. The product was created to address the nation’s current mental health crisis: According to the clinic’s director, Dr. Mia McNeil, the pandemic forced 65 percent of mental health organizations to cancel, reschedule and turn away patients. Now, those who previously suffered from moderate symptoms are experiencing severe acuity-level symptoms. Dr. McNeil said the clinic serves all types of patients, yet it is focused on serving this specific cohort. 

 

The pandemic forced 65 percent of mental health organizations to cancel, reschedule and turn away patients. Now, those who previously suffered from moderate symptoms are experiencing severe acuity-level symptoms.

 

Dr. McNeil believes having a virtual clinic is essential, considering it enables the company to engage with countless communities and reach patients in more rural areas. “This is the value that we’re adding to the behavioral health space every day,” Dr. McNeil said. 

The new clinic was designed to reflect Quartet Health’s mission to deliver high-quality behavioral healthcare. Dr. McNeil said that’s why the team ensured its clinic had the right amount of evidence and measurements in place to prove its success. 

 

SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THE JOURNEY

Quartet Health’s clinic provides a comprehensive suite of services. Once patients complete the intake process, they’re assigned to a therapist for follow-up psychotherapy appointments and are connected with a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner for medication management. “Our goal is to partner with patients throughout their care journey,” Dr. McNeil said. 

 

Quartet Health employees working in the office
Quartet Health

 

 

Improving Clinical Outcomes

In creating the clinic, Dr. McNeil said the Quartet Health team had to ensure it applied evidence-based medicine and supported a measurement-based care model. This structure means the company’s clinical team gathers patient data throughout the treatment process and uses this information to define their approach. Therefore, clinicians can alter their method if an individual isn’t responding appropriately to a specific treatment. 

Dr. McNeil said Quartet Health has made this tailored approach possible by integrating its measurement-based care platform into the company’s electronic health record. Backed by this technical partnership, the clinical team can then develop their workflows in a way that supports the identification and tracking of patient symptoms from the moment an individual’s treatment begins.  

“Our goal is to validate the quality of care we're providing to our patients, and we believe the best way to do that is through standardized assessments,” McNeil said. 

 

RESULTS THAT RENDER PROGRESS

According to Dr. McNeil, the team has already seen significant improvements in patients participating in the company’s clinical treatment: On average, its patients have experienced a reduction of over seven points in PHQ-9, which is an assessment of the severity of depression symptoms. Additionally, rather than waiting weeks — or sometimes months — to find care and begin treatment, Quartet Health patients have their first appointment scheduled within 48 hours, and the time to appointment is within seven days. For those patients that are the highest acuity or in crisis, same-day appointments are offered.

 

Current statistics reveal that the company is succeeding in its efforts. “90 percent of our patients are completing assessments, which affords our clinicians the ability to track the progression of symptoms and inform treatment decision-making,” Dr. McNeil said. “This is definitely having a significant impact on clinical outcomes.” 

The uniqueness of Quartet Health’s new clinic required an innovative execution strategy. For this reason, VP of Engineering and Product Management Euston Maynard said the company took a ground-up approach to ensure his team’s technical solution aligned with the needs of the clinicians. 

In addition to alignment between clinicians and technologists, creating cohesion between clinicians and patients was equally critical to building the clinic. VP of User Experience Jose Aponte’s team was tasked with facilitating that continuity, which required intentional analysis of different touchpoints between clinicians and patients. “You see a lot of that percolate throughout the whole product and experience,” he said. 

 

A Quartet Health employee poses for a photo in the office
Quartet Health

 

Delivering a Seamless Experience

All of this extensive, interconnected innovation is joined together by one central aim: to deliver a seamless patient experience. 

In order to achieve this, Aponte and his teammates relied on data-driven analysis, patient feedback and a cross-functional approach. They designed every aspect of the experience in a way that empowers individuals, whether they’re working on the intake process or searching for a provider.  

“We’re trying to give agency to the patient,” Aponte said. 

While technology forms the backbone of the clinic, so does empathy. “There's a lot of stigma and issues with access to behavioral healthcare, so we want to make sure that our digital experience feels compassionate,” Aponte said. 

 

“There's a lot of stigma and issues with access to behavioral healthcare, so we want to make sure that our digital experience feels compassionate.”

 

Of course, this empathetic approach can only manifest once patients effectively enroll in the clinic. Initially, the team’s clinicians were expected to manually set patients up on the platform, yet Maynard and his peers saw an opportunity to automate this process. Because of this change, the clinical team can onboard new patients seamlessly, therefore speeding up care delivery. 

According to Maynard, the product and engineering teams worked in tandem with Dr. McNeil to foster the vision for the clinic and carry out the project’s execution; a feat that required close collaboration from everyone involved. 

 

A POWERFUL PARTNERSHIP

Maynard said patient engagement isn’t just important — it’s critical. That’s why the team was selective when choosing a measurement-based care platform and electronic health record. The team chose to leverage Mirah and Athenahealth due to their reliability and, most importantly, scalability. “We're going to need to accelerate the clinic, and we want to make sure the partnership we established would support that as well,” Maynard said. 

 

The Quartet Health team in Bryant Park
Quartet Health

 

‘The Need Never Stops’

Creating a product with the potential to change lives is one thing; but seeing that impact in action is another. Dr. McNeil is excited to see the company help patients across the country now — and in the future. 

“We're realizing that we answered a great need, but the need never stops,” she said. 

Maynard said he was encouraged to see the clinic make an immediate difference, especially given how much effort went into developing it. 

Yet the work isn’t over. For Maynard, this idea isn’t daunting; rather, it’s motivating. 

“It gives me goosebumps to think about how we're impacting the behavioral healthcare community,” he said. 

Being driven by impact is something all three leaders have in common. In fact, Aponte joined Quartet Health partly because of its mission: It hits close to home, as several of his family members have suffered from mental illnesses. 

“It motivates me to help someone else out there,” Aponte said. 

Yet it’s not just the support itself that makes Aponte’s work meaningful. It’s having the opportunity to deliver quality behavioral healthcare to not just some people — but millions. 

“Every single day I wake up and think, ‘We’ve helped some patients, but I want to help a lot more,’” Aponte said. “And we can definitely do that.”

 

Quartet Health employees working in the office
Quartet Health

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Quartet Health.

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