Compass Health Bridge

Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:55 am by

Com­pass Health debuts rev­o­lu­tion­ary mobile tele­health sys­tem to pro­vide vital men­tal health and sub­stance abuse treat­ment dur­ing COVID-19 social dis­tanc­ing, and for future care

Cloud-based Com­pass Health Bridge plat­form vir­tu­al­ly con­nects front-line behav­ioral health providers with clients in com­mu­ni­ty or home settings

EVERETT – Com­pass Health has announced the orga­ni­za­tion-wide launch of its mobile tele­health sys­tem, Com­pass Health Bridge. The three-part sys­tem enables behav­ioral health pro­fes­sion­als to con­nect vir­tu­al­ly with clients in com­mu­ni­ty and home set­tings via HIPAA-com­pli­ant, secure video chat for coun­sel­ing, psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion and case management.

Com­pass Health is lead­ing the indus­try in its use of inte­grat­ed mobile tele­health for behav­ioral health care deliv­ery on a broad scale. In fall 2019, the orga­ni­za­tion first pilot­ed the Bridge sys­tem, which includes pro­pri­etary mobile devices that providers can con­trol remote­ly to obtain a 360-degree view of a client’s environment.

Now, spurred by COVID-19 social-dis­tanc­ing, Com­pass Health has dra­mat­i­cal­ly expand­ed deploy­ment of mobile tele­health, train­ing more than 500 behav­ioral health pro­fes­sion­als to deliv­er care remote­ly and enabling many clients to com­mu­ni­cate via their own devices. The need was urgent: through­out March 2020, client par­tic­i­pa­tion in out­pa­tient treat­ment and oth­er ser­vices was decreas­ing 20 per­cent week-over-week as com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers adhered to the state’s orders to stay home.

“We are a front­line care provider to our com­mu­ni­ties’ most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers, who are also at high risk of COVID-19 infec­tion and com­pli­ca­tions,” said Tom Sebas­t­ian, Com­pass Health CEO and pres­i­dent. “We also know that times of stress and uncer­tain­ty are espe­cial­ly chal­leng­ing for those deal­ing with men­tal health and sub­stance use dis­or­der issues, so it’s imper­a­tive for us to con­tin­ue coun­sel­ing and treat­ment. The Bridge sys­tem allows us to do just that—we can main­tain social dis­tanc­ing while still serv­ing as a life­line for whole per­son health.”

Addi­tion­al­ly, the provider has deployed six Bridge mobile devices to emer­gency depart­ments in Skag­it, Island, San Juan and What­com coun­ties, enabling its pro­fes­sion­als to com­plete behav­ioral health assess­ments remote­ly. In addi­tion to sup­port­ing safe­ty by min­i­miz­ing phys­i­cal con­tact, this helps hos­pi­tals pre­serve per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) by elim­i­nat­ing the need to pro­vide it for Com­pass Health staff mem­bers on-site.

Com­pass Health’s ser­vices are par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant dur­ing the COVID-19 out­break. Its pro­grams sup­port men­tal well­ness and treat­ment for sub­stance use dis­or­ders, as well as the phys­i­cal health of clients who are near­ly all in the high-risk group for the coro­n­avirus and unlike­ly to seek care from a med­ical provider.

Its triage cen­ters, cri­sis response teams and oth­er ser­vices also make a direct impact on keep­ing indi­vid­u­als out of the emer­gency room and inpa­tient care set­tings, free­ing up beds for those who need treat­ment for COVID-19 or oth­er seri­ous con­di­tions. And, while schools are closed, the organization’s youth pro­grams help fill crit­i­cal gaps for many fam­i­lies who typ­i­cal­ly receive spe­cial ser­vices from the edu­ca­tion system.

Com­pass Health first began pilot­ing the mobile tele­health sys­tem for select pro­grams in fall 2019 to improve client expe­ri­ence and provider avail­abil­i­ty. Instead of los­ing time to fer­ry trav­el or hours in the car – sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges for an orga­ni­za­tion that oper­ates from the foothills of the Cas­cade moun­tains to the San Juan Islands – Com­pass Health providers actu­al­ly expand­ed their instances of care, using the sys­tem to vir­tu­al­ly cross hun­dreds of miles to pro­vide high-qual­i­ty ser­vices for their clients. 

“We’ve seen first­hand how Bridge plays a cru­cial role in our abil­i­ty to main­tain our sys­tems of care,” said Com­pass Health Chief Med­ical Offi­cer Camis Mil­am, MD. “Many of the peo­ple we serve view Com­pass Health pro­fes­sion­als as their pri­ma­ry health­care resources, and it’s impor­tant that we con­tin­ue to pro­vide access for vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our communities.”

The three com­po­nents of the Bridge sys­tem, built on Inte­grat­ed Tele­health Solu­tions’ tech­nol­o­gy plat­form include: 

  • A HIPAA-com­pli­ant, cloud-based plat­form built on Zoom that enables secure video chat; 
  • Pro­pri­etary mobile devices – sim­i­lar to an iPad, but with enhanced func­tion­al­i­ty – that providers or oth­er team mem­bers can bring to clients’ homes or com­mu­ni­ty settings;
  • A secure por­tal that enables providers and clients to log onto Bridge and inter­act uti­liz­ing their own Inter­net-enabled mobile devices, lap­tops or desktops. 

One way clients can access care is through the Bridge mobile units. Com­pass Health team mem­bers bring the devices to clients, who then begin their med­ical appoint­ments in their homes, schools or oth­er com­mu­ni­ty set­tings rather than hav­ing to meet at Com­pass Health offices. Once logged on, providers inter­face with clients from their office or pri­ma­ry loca­tion, remote­ly con­trol­ling the device’s 360-degree cam­era to observe the client’s phys­i­cal appear­ance and environment.

In response to the COVID-19 out­break, the Com­pass Health team quick­ly added capac­i­ty to the Bridge sys­tem that allows clients to use their own devices to log onto the sys­tem using a secure link to con­nect with their provider. With the help of fund­ing part­ners Ver­dant Health Com­mis­sion, EverTrust Foun­da­tion, Office of Crime Vic­tim Advo­ca­cy, Children’s Advo­ca­cy Cen­ters of Wash­ing­ton, and oth­ers, Com­pass Health was able to expand access to its essen­tial ser­vices, mak­ing the sys­tem avail­able to more than 5,000 clients in a mat­ter of days.

“How we care for behav­ioral health and phys­i­cal health is rapid­ly chang­ing, and our 500-plus Com­pass Health providers quick­ly adopt­ed and trained on this sys­tem to bet­ter respond to cur­rent cir­cum­stances,” said Stacey Alles, chief oper­at­ing offi­cer at Com­pass Health. “We’ve seen the impact of using inno­va­tions to advance whole per­son health across our orga­ni­za­tion, and we know this will make a huge dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­ni­ties we serve.” 

In addi­tion to lever­ag­ing Bridge for enhanced client expe­ri­ence, the Com­pass Health team has also uti­lized the sys­tem to sup­port clin­i­cal super­vi­sion and man­age­ment and team com­mu­ni­ca­tion. With a foot­print that cross­es five coun­ties, Bridge allows staff mem­bers to meet vir­tu­al­ly and align on treat­ment plans or changes in medication.

“For many health­care con­sumers, it’s com­mon­place to use mobile tele­health for non-urgent med­ical issues,” Sebas­t­ian said. “How­ev­er, these sys­tems are still under­uti­lized in the behav­ioral health space. We’re excit­ed to pio­neer Bridge and demon­strate the ways that our team mem­bers inno­vate and embrace tech­nol­o­gy to serve our clients when and where they need us.” 

More infor­ma­tion about the Bridge sys­tem be found at Com­pass Health’s ded­i­cat­ed web­page at www.compasshealth.org/telehealth. For those inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about Com­pass Health’s com­mu­ni­ty efforts or sup­port­ing their vision for whole per­son health, vis­it www.compasshealth.org.

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About Com­pass Health 

Com­pass Health is North­west Washington’s behav­ioral health­care leader. A com­mu­ni­ty-based health­care agency, Com­pass Health inte­grates behav­ioral health and med­ical care ser­vices to form a key sec­tion of the com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty net and serve clients and oth­ers in need of care and sup­port. From com­pre­hen­sive men­tal health treat­ment to cri­sis pre­ven­tion and inter­ven­tion, sup­port­ive hous­ing, children’s ser­vices, com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion and much more, the non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion serves peo­ple of all ages through­out Sno­homish, Skag­it, Island, San Juan, and What­com counties.

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