A NeuroFlow Partner Profile
The following interview is the second installment of the NeuroFlow’s Partner Profile series where we spotlight partners from our referral network and the innovative work they’re doing to help solve the mental health crisis.
Brightside Health delivers life-changing mental health care to individuals with mild-to-severe clinical depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, including those with elevated suicide risk. While most telemental health companies focus on lower end severity, complexity, and acuity spectrums, Brightside Health increases access to high-quality virtual care for people with more severe and higher acuity needs. The company’s models are also backed by clinical rigor and data, including eight currently published studies in peer-reviewed journals.
Mimi Winsberg, MD, is Brightside Health’s Chief Medical Officer and co-founder. She leads the company’s clinical programs, with a focus on optimizing engagement and outcomes for individuals with a range of mental health conditions. At Brightside Health, she has built an innovative care model that can treat mental health patients across the range of severity through quick, national access to high-quality psychiatry and therapy.
Q: What’s your background in the healthcare industry and how did that lead you to your current role?
I am a Stanford-trained psychiatrist who brings more than 25 years of clinical experience to my role at Brightside Health. I previously held leadership roles at Ginger and Lyra and served as the on-site psychiatrist at the Facebook Wellness Center.
In creating Brightside Health with my co-founders, our goal was to provide accessible mental health care to everyone who needs it. Our proprietary AI, purpose-built technology and innovative care model are designed to more effectively treat patients. It’s working; 86% of our patients get better within 12 weeks.
Q: What’s the biggest problem facing behavioral health?
Anxiety, depression, and suicide rates are on the rise. Approximately one in five U.S. adults have a mental health condition. Suicide in particular affects millions, with 12 million seriously considering suicide every year. Rates of suicide rose 30% overall since 2000.
With a limited pool of providers available to meet the increasing demand for care, average wait times exceed 25 days for specialty care and even closer to six months for in-person behavioral healthcare. This means emergency departments are overburdened with patients seeking help for psychiatric or substance use-related disorders, to the tune of approximately 8.4 million visits each year. Of those, two-thirds to three-quarters of patients will be discharged to outpatient care— often with long wait times to be discharged. For those who need inpatient care, beds are in short supply.
We have to find better ways to get people to the appropriate levels of care – and efficiently – which is where telemental health can help.
Q: How is your organization working to solve that problem?
Brightside Health is serving individuals who might exceed risk for outpatient treatment but fall short of requiring emergency services or immediate inpatient psychiatric admission. Intermediate risk populations haven’t been provided with adequate telemedicine tools until now. While most telemental health companies focus on lower end severity, complexity, and acuity spectrum, we provide quality, evidence-based care across the spectrum—including those with elevated suicide risk. Within 12 weeks, 86% of our patients experience clinically significant improvement, with 71% of patients achieving remission during the same period. Of patients achieving remission within 12 weeks, 65% did so within 28 days and 82% did so within 48 days.
Brightside Health also employs proprietary machine learning models to collect more than 100 data points on an individual patient and surface clinical decision support to clinicians including recommendations for medications that will likely be most tolerable and effective for that patient. This helps clinicians craft a personalized treatment plan, resulting in a 70% response rate to the first treatment cycle, as opposed to more typical 35% response rates.
In late 2022, Brightside Health expanded its offerings to launch Crisis Care, a first-of-its-kind national telehealth program designed to treat individuals with elevated suicide risk. Crisis Care is based on the clinically-proven Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) framework. The focus is to provide fast, effective treatment virtually for people who are actively suicidal or have had a recent suicide attempt, as well as those in need of follow-up care after hospitalization. Individuals considering suicide can’t wait weeks or months to be seen by a provider, and Crisis Care ensures this high-risk population receives access to quality treatment in 48 hours or less.
Our extension into elevated suicide risk with Crisis Care is a continued investment in our strength: providing the highest quality care to those who need it the most. In doing so, we can support meaningful clinical outcomes as well as financial impact, aligning our work with health plans who share our commitment to ensure timely access to high-quality care for mental health.
Q: What excites you most about your partnership with NeuroFlow?
Working with innovative partners like NeuroFlow enables Brightside Health to ensure that more higher severity and acuity patients are getting timely access to life-changing care. We saw this most recently when we partnered with NeuroFlow to help us launch Crisis Care, and we look forward to continuing to work together to improve outcomes for patients across the clinical spectrum.
Q: What’s something going on at Brightside Health that you’re really excited about?
We’re eager to continue publishing peer-reviewed research. We’ve now published nine peer-reviewed studies. These include a paper in Cureus that shows Brightside Health’s outcomes performed significantly better than those under traditional psychiatric treatment (80% compared to 52%) in terms of reduction in symptoms of depression in adults; a paper in JMIR Formative Research showing the efficacy of telehealth and antidepressant intervention to reduce suicidal ideation—demonstrating individuals in the treatment group were 4.3 times more likely to have suicidal ideation remission than those in the control group; and research published in BMC Psychiatry that demonstrated the impact of Brightside Health’s precision prescribing capabilities.
Q: What new innovations do you think will have the biggest impact on behavioral health and why?
After years of research and development, we’re starting to see better, more meaningful utilization of AI and machine learning for telemental health services, especially for patient engagement, risk stratification, and treatment selection. We’ll continue to see this push telehealth forward by incorporating novel technologies such as natural language processing and sentiment analysis, along with refinement of the machine learning algorithms, to drive better patient outcomes. These tools can help support patients between appointments when they may feel more vulnerable. For high-risk patients, clinical support tools that leverage AI and machine learning are especially critical.
We’re at an interesting inflection point for mental health services; demand is surging and health systems aren’t set up to meet it alone. Health plans have an opportunity to expand their virtual offerings to efficiently and effectively treat people with higher severity, complexity, and acuity by driving care away from expensive in-person services such as ER and hospital visits. By collaborating with telemental health companies that serve as a partner and extension of a health care system, we can drive better outcomes at lower costs and start to make a real, positive impact. Please visit www.brightside.com to learn more.