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Fragile Care Populations

Autism – Focus on Autism Learning Partners and NeuroAbilities Healthcare

Behavioral Health broadly is a compelling and active sandbox for investment with Autism treatment, more specifically, developing as a rapidly professionalizing, highly fragmented and fast growing market that is poised for a standardized approach to holistic treatment. Diagnoses rates for autism have risen from 1 in 500 in 1995 to 1 in 54 as of 2020. While Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy is currently the best evidence-based treatment for autism (increasing IQ levels by an average of 18 points), there is lack of clinical protocols that are widely accepted by the market, billing codes vary widely from state to state and the integration between medical and behavioral health continues to be slow.

As payers increase coverage for ABA therapy, they are looking for ways to control costs and gain some visibility into clinical pathways or outcomes.

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Company Profile

Situation

Behavioral Health broadly is a compelling and active sandbox for investment with Autism treatment, more specifically, developing as a rapidly professionalizing, highly fragmented and fast growing market that is poised for a standardized approach to holistic treatment. Diagnoses rates for autism have risen from 1 in 500 in 1995 to 1 in 54 as of 2020. While Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy is currently the best evidence-based treatment for autism (increasing IQ levels by an average of 18 points), there is lack of clinical protocols that are widely accepted by the market, billing codes vary widely from state to state and the integration between medical and behavioral health continues to be slow. As payers increase coverage for ABA therapy, they are looking for ways to control costs and gain some visibility into clinical pathways or outcomes.

Complexity

Enormous challenges are baked into the sector that relies on large distributed workforces to meet patient and family demands across home, school and center based service lines.  One of the primary pressure points for all of behavioral health is that reimbursement is lagging behind the valuable services that the segment is beginning to see growth in including earlier diagnoses for chronic conditions that begin in childhood.  Directly tied to low reimbursement is the difficulty in attracting clinical talent into the segment.  For example, the current national shortage of Psychiatrists has been estimated to be around 25,000 and even more startling is that approximately 60% of practicing psychiatrists are over the age of 60 (healthleadersmedia.com).  Building and more importantly, keeping a strong and committed team of front line therapists is easily one of the most challenging barriers to growth and success for the segment.

Strategy & Outcomes

In addition to the core skills needed to operate a healthcare services business, participation in the building of a behavioral health platform requires a leader to be exceptionally strategic, empathetic and adaptable with the demands of rapid change. In partnership with 3 separate businesses in this segment we have drawn from the market a CEO, COO and SVP of Operations (who was promoted to CEO within 6 months) each with a comprehensive ability to blend their head, hands and heart in concert together. Growth of these businesses is ongoing and continues to serve patients, families and providers with remarkable, life-line services that are built for the long haul. Not to mention the career opportunities afforded to the management teams that are forging new paths of value and scale amidst one of the fastest growing and evolving segments in healthcare today.

Growth of these businesses is ongoing and continues to serve patients, families and providers with remarkable, life-line services that are built for the long haul. Not to mention the career opportunities afforded to the management teams that are forging new paths of value and scale amidst one of the fastest growing and evolving segments in healthcare today.

The Parnassus Group is absolutely, 100%, truly unique. Little did I know 5 years ago that I would develop a friendship with John and the Parnassus Group. A brief call, which led to a short meeting, has turned into a meaningful relationship. I don’t think about the Parnassus team as a firm, I think of them as trusted advisors and friends. John has been a mentor to me, and someone that I think to call when I’m faced with difficult decisions, or I’m seeking an unbiased view. But it doesn’t stop with John, he’s developed a team that is bright, talented, and wants to provide a service that is unparalleled.

As I’ve grown in my career, the scope of the work has gained complexity, exposure to senior leadership more frequent, and the impact of decisions more meaningful, I’ve realized the importance of creating balance.

When I think about the time I’m with my family during the work-week, the amount of hours are precious.  I’ve made a commitment (most of the time) to set my phone down when I walk in the house at the end of the day, and try not to pick it back up until the kids are in bed. While this may not sound like a lot, I’ve found it’s the little things that create the necessary boundaries.

What are some of the things that you have learned as a leader that involved your decision making process about coming to DaVita?

Over the years, I’ve heard the phrase, “life is a journey, not a destination”. This became true when I started working at Davita, and realized that the Village provided an opportunity to learn and grow, and be part of something bigger than an employee fulfilling a role in an organization.

Prior to DaVita, I spent a number of years in an organization wanting more, but unclear where I would find it, and how I would get there. When I learned about DaVita,  I was intrigued by the concept of Teammates, and hearing stories about tenure and the ability to grow within the organization.

As I’ve experienced this journey first hand, I’ve found the experience to be more fulfilling than I could have imagined. Knowing that I can raise my hand to gain exposure to a project, be called on by Teammates outside my lane provides energy to continue to want to do more. This is an organization that encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, while never having to leave the organization.