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The Path to Wellbeing Includes Emotional Health


Why a synchronized approach to care is needed now more than ever.

Lisa Y. Harris, M.D., FAAP, FACP, CPE
Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Commercial
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield


Employer focus on mental and behavioral health has grown in recent years. In fact, as a society, we’re talking more about emotional health than ever before. As the acknowledgment of mental health issues gains greater acceptance, they have also become easier for patients and providers to address.

Why Businesses Should Care
In the U.S., mental health and substance use issues cost businesses $80 to $100 billion each year. And even though over 200 million workdays are lost due to mental health conditions annually ($16.8 billion in employee productivity), it remains a difficult subject for many people to discuss. Almost 60% of affected employees have never spoken to anyone at work about their mental health status.2

Today’s workforce demands a more open culture when it comes to emotional health, especially now with the effects of COVID-19 being felt across society. Employees need an approach that doesn’t just focus on mental or physical health, but on the entire person.

Putting our Members at the Center
At Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, we believe that guiding members to proper care means looking at all aspects of their wellbeing and meeting them where they are. That’s why we take an approach to helping people lead healthier lives called Synchronized Health.

Synchronized Health is about putting our members at the center of what we do and surrounding them with care, support and solutions that not only manage disease, but also prevent it. Nurses, care managers, pharmacists, wellness consultants and more collaborate to care for the whole member, including their emotional health.

When High Tech and High Touch Meet
For many people, nothing will replace a heart-to-heart conversation. Our 24/7 Nurse Line connects members to emergency resources when they are in need and want the comfort of a voice on the other end of the line.

But just as attitudes toward mental health are changing, so are the delivery methods for treating people. Speaking by video or texting with a doctor or therapist is now easier than ever and can feel more private. That’s why we’re partnering with physician’s offices to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic and behavioral health support in conjunction with our partner MDLIVE®.

We also introduced a cloud-based care management app, Wellframe®, that delivers care programs to members on their smartphone or tablet. Through Wellframe, our case managers can obtain real-time progress and clinical alerts, help members manage medications and find resources to assist with health care questions.

Wellframe® also provides an emotional health component to care. This includes a 30-day Behavioral Health & Wellness Foundation program covering emotional health, wellness, and prevention topics.

What’s Next?
We’re entering uncharted waters. The only certainty is that this generational pandemic will have lasting impacts on all of us. On our physical health, our financial health, and our mental health. Providing a synchronized approach to physical and emotional health, and getting the right tools, programs, and support into the hands of those who need it most will help make a difference.

Dr. Harris is Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for the Commercial Line of Business for the Excellus Health Plan. Board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Dr. Harris has been in clinical practice since 1995, and served on numerous boards in the Rochester and Southern Tier community. She continues to practice geriatrics in Rochester, NY, in addition to extensive involvement in medical education.



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