Our better care promise: A conversation with Chief Medical Officer Mimi Winsberg, MD

Our better care promise: A conversation with Chief Medical Officer Mimi Winsberg, MD

When it comes to mental health care, access is nothing without quality—it is the key to safe and effective treatment. At Brightside Health, we take the safety, efficacy, and quality of our care seriously: it’s ingrained in all we do, from who we hire and which medications we prescribe, to how we ensure the best possible outcomes for our members.

We spoke with our Chief Medical Officer Mimi Winsberg, MD, to discuss our commitment to members and how that guides our mission to deliver life-changing mental health care to everyone who needs it.

 

To begin, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Of course. I’m Mimi Winsberg, MD—the Chief Medical Officer at Brightside Health. I’m a Stanford-trained psychiatrist with over 25 years of clinical experience. I have expertise in the application of digital tools and therapeutics that impact behavioral health, and I focus on optimizing engagement and outcomes in patients. I also hold a B.A. in Neuroscience from Harvard College. At Brightside, I lead and oversee all our clinical programs.

 

Who are Brightside’s providers?

Our therapy and medication plans require exceptional providers to deliver the high-quality mental health care that individuals deserve. As a result, we are extremely selective and only interview and hire the best licensed professionals. Our national provider network consists of licensed therapists with a master’s level degree or higher, and psychiatric providers, who are psychiatric nurse practitioners or MDs.

 

Can you tell us more about the medication our psychiatric providers prescribe?

 We hold ourselves to rigorous standards for prescribing medication. We only prescribe medication when clinically appropriate, and we do not prescribe controlled substances (medications that can be addictive or dangerous). We only prescribe FDA-approved medications that have a proven safety profile and deliver clinically-meaningful benefits to the people we serve. 

Knowing that symptoms can present themselves differently in individuals, we’ve made significant investments in technology and data science to ensure that everyone can get the treatment that’s right for them and achieve the best clinical outcomes. Brightside’s providers use our proprietary clinical decision support system, PrecisionRx, which analyzes over 100 data points about an individual to recommend the medication most likely to be tolerable and effective for that person. This allows us to uniquely personalize medication to a member and treat their individual symptom clusters: typical prescribing practices only support 13% of Brightside’s more than 1,000 medication/dose combinations. 

With access to this innovative technology and the latest medical studies, our providers prescribe medication with a 70% response rate at first treatment—enabling members to feel better faster.

 

How does our therapy plan work?

Our therapy plan adheres to scientifically-proven techniques based on the Unified Protocol, a modern enhancement to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is effective at treating a wide variety of mental health conditions.

To ensure consistent quality, we’ve created standardized video lessons to teach key skills that are then explored and tailored to members’ unique needs during virtual therapy sessions. This creates a uniform foundation for effective care, while still allowing for a personalized experience for each individual.

 

What does Brightside do to ensure quality care for all members?

For starters, every member is seen by a licensed professional within five days—often within 24 hours—and their progress is followed by that provider throughout their treatment. If a member’s treatment plan includes both medication and therapy, they will work with at least two licensed professionals.

 From there, we follow the care standards I described earlier—we apply our innovative technology for treatment recommendations, and we’re thoughtful and stringent about the medications we provide, offering effective treatment with nonaddictive medications. On the therapy side, we adhere to evidence-based protocols and use a transdiagnostic approach (one program that works for multiple conditions).

Our superior outcomes also speak to the quality of care members receive: they feel better sooner, and stay that way longer. Over 85% of Brightside members experience clinically significant improvement in just 12 weeks, and 70% achieve remission of their symptoms altogether.

As part of our commitment to integrity, we also conduct research on our care. A recent external analysis found that Brightside’s care performed 50% higher in response and remission rates when compared to a leading U.S. health system.

 

Safety is especially important for treating complex mental health challenges. Can you tell us more about our safety protocols?

 The safety of members is our top priority. We’ve developed a series of safeguards to protect our members by ensuring prompt case reviews and care escalation when needed.

 With our measurement-based care approach, Brightside monitors members’ progress through online check-ins based on the GAD-7 and PHQ-9. If a member’s score decreases, or they are not improving with treatment as expected, a message is automatically sent to their provider so they can proactively engage with the member. Any messages are also scanned for risk terminology to alert their provider as needed. Members can request case reviews from the press of a button, and message their provider at any time. There is also an on-call psychiatrist 7 days a week.

Each of our providers has a supervisor who both proactively and responsively reviews and supports their care delivery. We have also implemented a continuous quality improvement system that conducts case reviews and oversees the entire clinical process, which is fully HIPAA compliant.

 

Brightside touts its Better Care Promise on its website. What commitment is Brightside making to its members?

We deliver the care we would want our family members to have. We are committed to following the highest clinical standards, delivering the best possible outcomes, protecting our members’ privacy, and treating every member like a person, not a patient. If any member has a question or is dissatisfied with their care for any reason, they can let us know, and we’ll make it right.

 

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