Skip to main content

2019 Policy Institute: Supporting Digital Innovation in Behavioral Health


Supporting Digital Innovation in Behavioral Health
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC






Mental Health America (MHA) has partnered with the Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) and BrainFutures for a Policy Institute to explore what the emergence of digital therapeutics means for mental health and substance use policy. While we will not attribute anything said in the Policy Institute to any of the attendees, we will use the discussion to inform a policy brief that will help guide the field as it navigates technology, policy, and behavioral health.

Technology has been disrupting everything from how we travel to how we buy groceries, but mental health and substance use treatment has largely remained the same. In some cases this may be for the best - disruption without evidence might not help people, and it may even hurt them. In the past few years, however, several technologies have undergone rigorous evaluations and demonstrated effectiveness in treating mental health and substance use conditions, and more and more are even receiving approval by the FDA. While there are many different kinds of digital health innovations, technologies that undergo these kind of rigorous reviews are referred to as "digital therapeutics."

To date digital therapeutics have received little policy consideration, as most digital health policy tackled critical issues in telehealth and health IT. For those who advocate for advancing behavioral health care and lowering consumer costs, what do digital therapeutics mean for policy? In a payment system designed for providers, drugs, and devices, how do digital therapeutics fit in and how can policy help build a supportive clinical context for delivering effective digital therapeutics to those who would most benefit?

Note that the Policy Institute is a separate one day event preceding MHA's 2019 Annual Conference.

Agenda for Policy Institute on Tuesday, June 11

10:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Welcome and Introductory Remarks

Paul Gionfriddo, CEO, Mental Health America

10:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Morning Keynote and the View from Congress

The Honorable Markwayne Mullin, Co-chair of the Congressional Health Care Innovation Caucus and Representative for Oklahoma's 2nd district

10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Innovations and Directions in Digital Therapeutics. What are digital therapeutics, what makes them different from other digital health innovations, and what opportunities do they offer to improve mental health and substance use outcomes while reducing consumer costs? We will hear from industry leaders on where they see the field heading, and what it could mean for behavioral health.

Moderated by Megan Coder, PharmD, MBA, Executive Director, Digital Therapeutics Alliance

Yuri A. Maricich M.D., M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer, Pear Therapeutics

Anil S Jina, MD, Senior Vice President, Head of Scientific & Medical Affairs, Akili Interactive

12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Networking Lunch

12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch Discussion on Theories of Coverage for Digital Therapeutics. Looking at health care as a whole, what are our options for how digital therapeutics could fit into payment and delivery, and how should we weigh these options as we advocate for policy change? We will hear from a leading health services researcher on the pros-and-cons of different policy approaches for integrating digital therapeutics into the fabric of care.

Adam C. Powell, PhD, President, Payer+Provider Syndicate

1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Provider Perspectives on the Clinical Context for Digital Therapeutics. How would providers react to digital therapeutics, and what do they need to effectively use them as part of their care? We will get diverse provider perspectives on what kind of policy changes might better support the health care delivery system to engage with these new technologies.

Ann Greiner, MS, President and CEO, Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative

Jeff Micklos, JD, Executive Director, Health Care Transformation Task Force

Trina Histon, PhD, Senior Principal Consultant, Prevention, Wellness and Digital Health, Kaiser Permanente

2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Payer Perspectives on the Policy Context for Digital Therapeutics. How do health insurers see digital therapeutics in the flurry of digital innovations, and what kind of policy reforms might help them navigate how and when they want to deploy these technologies? We will get reflections from different insurers and where they see policy challenges and opportunities ahead.

Charles Gross, PhD, Vice President, Behavioral Health, Anthem Inc.

Kate Berry, MPP, Senior Vice President, Clinical Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, America's Health Insurance Plans

John Loughnane, MD, Chief of Innovation, Commonwealth Care Alliance

3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Facilitated Discussion, Next Steps for Policy. Based on what we heard, what can policy-makers and advocates advance on the Hill, with the Administration, or in the states that might help get effective innovations to consumers, and ultimately improve mental health and substance use outcomes while reducing total costs? We will have a group discussion that will help build the foundation for the policy brief.

Moderated by Nathaniel Counts, JD, Associate VP of Policy, Mental Health America, and Linda Raines, CEO, BrainFutures

5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Networking Reception

*speaker names are added to the agenda as confirmed



Mental Health America (MHA) - founded in 1909 - is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need it; with recovery as the goal.

The Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) is a global non-profit trade association of industry leaders and stakeholders engaged in the evidence-driven advancement of digital therapeutics. DTA exists to broaden the understanding, adoption, and integration of clinically-validated digital therapeutics into healthcare through education, advocacy, and research.

BrainFutures is a national nonprofit formed to assess and advance the practical application of neuroscience research to improve human outcomes. It was launched in 2015 by the nation’s second oldest mental health advocacy organization, the Mental Health Association of Maryland (MHAMD). As a citizen advocacy organization we offer objective assessment; public education; and a platform for policy and systems change.

Questions about the Policy Institute?
Contact MHA's Associate Vice President of Policy, Nathaniel Counts.