BCBSMA adds cognitive behavioral therapy to its digital solutions

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will now be putting digital cognitive behavioral therapy to use to help its members struggling with depression, insomnia, stress and anxiety.

The Blues plan will be expanding its digital platform to include Learn to Live’s evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy. Learn to Live’s CBT therapy will be available to BCBSMA’s employer clients with 500 or more members.

Minneapolis-based Learn to Live’s delivery model will become a part of BCBSMA’s Emerging Solutions portfolio, launched in July 2018 to curate health solutions and provide advice to employer customers on which solutions could best help improve their employees' health. With this new partnership, Learn to Live’s solution will join nationally recognized solutions for diabetes prevention and management; fertility; pregnancy; and parenting on the BCBSMA Emerging Solutions platform.

“We believe an individual's emotional health is as important as their physical health, and we are committed to helping members get the support they need,” says Ken Duckworth, behavioral health medical director at BCBSMA.

“We know many of our members struggle to manage daily stresses and challenges in their lives and that our employer customers are looking for new solutions to help their employees,” Duckworth says. “The Learn to Live programs offer members another path to improve their emotional well-being in a way that's convenient and accessible for them.”

Dale Cook, CEO of Learn to Live, says the program helps users identify thoughts and behavior patterns that perpetuate their issues, so they can work through them. The company’s customized online programs are based on proven principles of CBT. The programs are confidential, and employers are not given identifiable information on whether an employee uses the program or not.

Relatively speaking, the program is less expensive than face-to-face therapy, ongoing medication and has been proven through a number of studies that it can treat anxiety and depression just as effectively, Cook says. A study in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, for example, shows that cognitive behavioral therapy can change the brains of people with anxiety issues in much the same way that medication can.

Cook notes that behavioral health disorders are more costly to the U.S. healthcare system than heart disease and cancer. The large untreated population of people suffering from these issues face barriers to treatment—including stigma, lack of access to behavioral health professionals, financial constraints and lack of geographic access, he says. Learn to Live’s online platform makes care accessible.

Learn to Live’s online courses are being used by 3.5 million members across the U.S. Some clients purchase it individually online; others access it through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, General Mills, Land O’Lakes and The Toro Company, and now BCBSMA. The University of Minnesota offers Learn to Live digital support to its 56,000 students.

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