Innovations of the Month: Evergreen Health (Maryland)

The below post appeared in the December 3, 2014 edition of our newsletter, News from NASHCO. To read the full newsletter or to sign-up, please click here.


Evergreen Health was founded to not just change health insurance in Maryland, but also the way healthcare is delivered. This model of reform is executed through two organizations: the Evergreen Health Co-op and its affiliate, Evergreen Health Care, which operates four patient centered medical homes focused on coordinated care and wellness.


Evergreen Health Care centers’ model is a collaborative, team based approach that fully integrates behavioral health with primary care. Members of the co-op who utilize the centers have their own health care team: a family practice physician, a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse care coordinator, a behavioral health specialist (licensed social worker), and a medical assistant.


Evergreen Health usEvergreen Health Logo 250x250es the term “behavioral health” to not only describe mental health and substance use issues, but also the everyday behaviors that effect our physical and spiritual health. The CO-OP’s goal is to normalize behavioral health.



Despite being trained as behavioral health specialists, the members of Evergreen’s behavioral health team are called “health coaches,” making them feel more approachable for its members. As health coaches, they are the first clinical touch when a patient arrives at one of the health care centers. The health coach enters the room of a new patient and explains the team-based approach to care that is built on addressing member health behavior. The health coach also screens each member for depression, anxiety and substance use. The Evergreen Health Care primary care practitioners provide medication management of routine psychotropic medications.


The health coach is available for psychotherapy and develops a relationship with each member of the centers. The health coach can also serve as the care coordinator for behavioral health referrals should the need arise for mental health or substance use services or when the patient’s needs may exceed the scope of the provider’s practice in centers. Having a health coach coordinate care helps the CO-OP’s members have an easier transition into treatment.


Unfortunately, there is a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists and Maryland is no exception. To address this challenge, the centers have developed telepsychiatry capabilities that will launch the first of the year. Every center is equipped with a telehealth room that is able to serve multiple functions. The goal is to reduce the current 4 to 6 weeks wait time for psychiatrist appointments to 7 days for routine needs and 24 to 48 hours for urgent situations.


Evergreen Health has also worked with ValueOptions, a contracted behavioral health provider network, to implement telepsychiatry services throughout the state, to better serve its HMO primary care provider network. Expanding telehealth availability for psychotherapy and health coaching is also projected for 2015.