Today, four of the largest community behavioral health providers in Washington State announced a new partnership called Fourfront Contributor, an advocacy and leadership coalition that utilizes their collective size and expertise to improve the health of individuals, communities and the systems that serve them.
Member organizations include Compass Health, Comprehensive Healthcare, Frontier Behavioral Health and Sound. Serving more than 76,000 individuals, the Fourfront Contributor footprint spans from the Pacific Ocean to the Inland Northwest.
“Many of our industry peers might have known us as Behavioral Health Northwest in the past, but we’re excited to re-introduce ourselves as Fourfront Contributor with a clear platform of advocacy,” said Patrick Evans, President & CEO of Sound, which serves King County. “It’s humbling to work with such dedicated partners who are so committed to the same vision and goals, and I can’t wait to see the results of our efforts for those we serve.”
In 2021, Fourfront Contributor will focus on advocating for legislative support of telehealth in behavioral healthcare delivery. Mobilized by the rapid adoption and innovation of telehealth during the pandemic and the positive impact for clients, Fourfront Contributor’s member CEOs recognized the importance of championing telehealth and its ability to ensure access to care. According to collective data, the four organizations saw a 3,700% increase in telehealth encounters and nearly 10 percentage points decrease in no-shows and cancellations in 2020 alone due to the expansion of telehealth.
To ensure continued success, one of Fourfront Contributor’s key priorities includes advocating for the state legislature to adhere to a set of core principles for determining telehealth regulatory and reimbursement structures. This includes:
- Utilizing telehealth to increase access and promote health equity through support for the full range of telehealth modalities.
- Maximizing regulatory flexibilities to sustain telehealth adoption.
- Clinicians, in collaboration with clients, determining when a telehealth visit is appropriate.
- Reimbursing telehealth visits on par with in-person visits to ensure a comprehensive coordinated and integrated continuum of care designed with equity in mind.
- Working with partners on broadband access and adequate funding to ensure distribution of hardware.
“Our organizations and other behavioral health providers were utilizing telehealth in limited capacities before the onset of the pandemic, but quick innovation, paired with practical and flexible telehealth policies really enabled us to expand access to exceptional care virtually,” said Tom Sebastian, president and CEO of Compass Health, which serves Northwest Washington. “For some clients, telehealth is a literal lifeline that breaks down geographic, financial, social and other barriers to access, connecting individuals with providers. As a part of Fourfront Contributor, we’re excited to take up the mantle and advocate for commensurate policies on behalf of those in need.”
In the future, Fourfront Contributor leaders envision multiple avenues that will contribute their collective scale and expertise to improve the health of individuals and communities. This includes engaging lawmakers to advocate for sound policies and necessary funding; serving clients by developing practical, scalable and evidence-based models of care; working with payers to advocate for adequate funding to support community behavioral health services; and supporting providers by advancing knowledge and best practices across service areas.
“Fourfront Contributor is the perfect opportunity to leverage our collective voices to make a difference,” said Jodi Daly, CEO of Comprehensive Healthcare, with locations throughout Central Washington. “With a nuanced understanding of the communities we serve, it’s our goal to build inclusive representation into the causes and policies that we support. This includes exercising compassion toward the concerns of those who have been underserved by traditional health systems, and leveraging our leadership to make sure they are heard.”
As a resource to the behavioral health community as a whole, Fourfront Contributor plans to bridge the needs of clients and providers, supporting an understanding of population health and effective health systems. Additionally, the organization aims to act as a representative of regional interests, building a portfolio of recommendations and insights to share with policymakers at the local and state levels.
“Contribution was so important that we built it right into the name,” said Jeff Thomas, CEO of Frontier Behavioral Health, which serves the Spokane region. “There are so many ways we envision supporting and contributing to the behavioral health landscape—improved outcomes, health equity, workforce development, effective care delivery – the list goes on. At the end of the day, we’re excited to embrace the challenges and opportunities that the future holds and look forward to magnifying the voices in our communities.”