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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS
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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
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Tyrone Quarterman, BA, MPH Candidate
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Georgia Kioukis, PhD
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Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective Logo

Program Website
Year:
2017
State:
North Carolina
Winner Status:
Applicant
Program Type:
Access to Care
Target Population:
Individuals who are Low Income
Setting:
Online Community/Tool

Program Description

Founded in 2012 and launched in the spring of 2013, Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office mental health care to low and middle-income individuals, couples, children and families in need. To date, Open Path has connected more than 6,000 clients to affordable care. Additionally, we have signed on more than 14,000 students in our affordable online mental wellness education initiative. Open Path provides an online point of access for any individual, couple, or family in the nation to find in-person affordable psychotherapy in their area. Open Path’s network consists of 2,775 clinicians in 49 states who provide low-cost mental health care to 400-450 new clients each month (the number of therapists in our network, and the number of clients we connect to affordable care grow incrementally each month). Our clinicians are selected through a rigorous screening process that includes proof of state licensure and peer review. Clients pay a modest membership fee ($49) in exchange for lifetime access to the Open Path clinician network. Once connected with a therapist, the client pays a negotiated rate that ranges between $30-50 per session.

Creativity

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is the first and only organization to establish and run a nationwide network of mental health professionals that provides affordable, accessible, quality care to those in need. Open Path took the power of technology and scaling from a small, local level, to a national level, allowing for a more efficient application of resources. A local counseling organization may serve 25 new clients a month with a $500,000 operating budget. Open Path is able to serve 450 new clients a month with a budget of $300,000 or less. Our website becomes the waiting room that directs the client to a licensed therapist available in their area. The client chooses which therapist they prefer and the relationship is initiated. The therapeutic experience is designed to mirror the treatment of someone who either has high-quality insurance or the means to pay more for therapy out of pocket.

Leadership

This initiative has several replicable elements. The use of technology to connect clients to providers can be applied to many fields of service, especially healthcare. Once the platform is established, increasing participation through Google Adwords support and word of mouth can be applied. Finally, sustainability is dependent on the satisfaction of both clients and providers so quality of services and attention to outcomes must be maintained. As our operation has grown to serve more individuals and reach sustainability, we are in the right position to share what we have accomplished. We have promoted our initiative through interviews, written articles, social media, and podcasts. We would like to use Scattergood funds to begin the process of disseminating our model and the means to enact it on a national level to other wellness practitioners in anticipation that they may replicate what Open Path has accomplished in their given field of healthcare.

Sustainability

OPPC is at a place financially where operations are fully covered through client fees. Approximately 400 new clients join each month. Their $49 lifetime membership fee has resulted in $20,000 in monthly income. An additional $15,000 in monthly income is generated through our mental health education services. Each student pays $5 to access all 19 of our online classes with an additional fee for the completion certificate if needed. At least 14,000 individuals have accessed this education component to date and more sign up each day. We have several partners with a vested interest in our work. These include ongoing funders like Google as well as several organizations that provide discounts to our participating therapists (http://openpathcollective.org/therapists/). We also consider the therapists in the network (http://openpathcollective.org/pinboard/), the clients utilizing the services, and students utilizing the education, as vested partners.

Replicability

We believe that the internet has a powerful role to play in enacting change in the mental health and wellness fields. There has never been an attempt before to harness the power of the internet to join licensed mental health clinicians to publicly act—on an ethical impulse with monetary and professional benefit—in service of reaching the increasing number of uninsured/underinsured individuals in need of affordable psychotherapeutic services. Population demand and the ethical, monetary, and marketing benefit for clinicians make this a national model. We believe this approach can be replicated in other fields of health care. Acupuncturists, massage therapists, nutritionists, coaches, and chiropractors, for example, could emulate what we’ve done with an online platform and national scaling to reduce overhead and serve those most in need. In the upcoming year, Open Path would like to create a program where we assist other healthcare providers in replicating and reproducing our model.

Results/Outcomes

Our results to date are significant given the fact that we have only been operating for four years. To date, we have connected over 6,000 low-moderate and low-income individuals with affordable mental health care nationwide and an average of 400 new clients sign up each month. Currently, we have 2,775 licensed therapists in the network representing 49 states. This number grows daily. The care that OPPC clients receive is beneficial. Each client takes a statistically valid and reliable wellness survey at the outset of treatment. This instrument is again administered 9 months after initiating treatment. Of the 1,150 OPPC clients that have taken our statistically reliable measure two times, more than 90% report decreased symptomology and increased overall levels of functioning. Additionally, Open Path has conducted several qualitative studies that mirror our quantitative findings in terms of the success and satisfaction that our clients and therapists have in our initiative.