How You Feeling Nashville?
Not Bad, it Would Appear
We wanted to depart from traditional Power Poll programming this month and ask a different style of question. Typically, Power Poll asks about the most hot-button issues in a city: political races, legislative tussles, the prevailing hard news. This month, we dove into what experts refer to as “sentiment analysis.”
Ergo: How you feeling?
These sentiment analysis questions asked members to rank their levels of happiness, anxiety, political confidence and economic security.
That wasn’t all we asked. We also sold a sponsored poll question to an entity that wanted to poll our Nashville members on the brewing race for Congress in the Seventh Congressional District. Former Nashville mayor Megan Barry is said to be leaning towards challenging incumbent Republican Mark Green for that seat.
How BlueCross is working to improve mental health
Adding in-network providers, expanding access, improving equity
Nearly 1 million adults in Tennessee have a mental health condition. That’s 30 percent more than the population of Nashville. And 5 times the population of Knoxville.
Tennesseans lack access to behavioral health services
Simply put, there aren’t enough mental health providers to serve Tennesseans’ needs. BlueCross understands you can’t separate physical health needs from behavioral health needs. And most providers are concentrated in urban areas, often operating outside the health insurance system. In fact, only 56 percent of psychiatrists accept commercial insurance, compared to 90 percent of other types of health care providers.
That’s why it is expanding efforts to improve access to behavioral care.
BlueCross is working to increase in-network providers
In October, BlueCross sent new contracts to all mental health providers in its Commercial network with increased reimbursements for their services, effective Oct. 1, 2023. This represents a $30 million investment that balances the needs of providers while maintaining affordability for members. As a result of these efforts, new providers have joined our networks, which means members have more mental health options. We hope to add many more.
BlueCross expanded access to providers through Teladoc
Teladoc, a telehealth option that includes mental health services, launched this year. It is available to members through the BCBSTN mobile app and member portal. This makes an additional 5,000 behavioral health providers available to commercial members.
BlueCross has aligned care management teams around member needs
BlueCross realigned its care management teams to better integrate medical, behavioral health and pharmacy divisions around member needs. Behavioral health is focused on scheduling appointments for members, as well as working with providers to secure appointment times and appropriate follow ups. For those on a mental health medication, compliance is critical, especially during the first few weeks. The pharmacy team will use medication data to engage with members to ensure they are taking the medication as instructed by their provider.
BlueCross is working to increase health equity
In its first Health Equity Report released earlier this year, BlueCross identified how race and other social factors impacted Tennesseans’ ability to reach their highest level of health. In future reports, BlueCross is expanding the behavioral health metrics to include:
- Screenings to support youth mental health treatment
- Mental health hospitalization follow-up
- Substance use disorder treatment
Continued identification and measurement of equity issues across all areas of health will help BlueCross better engage with communities. The goal, in both physical and mental care, is to address health disparities so every Tennessean can thrive, regardless of their background.
Here are the specific questions and answers in our survey this month as voted on by 863 Nashville Power Poll members:
CONTEXT 1: Sentiment Analysis
What we intend to do over time is ask these identical sentiment analysis questions in other markets. We can track the responses over time. (Is Nashville less or more happy than it was six months ago, for instance.) And we can also compare Nashville’s happiness to other cities in which Power Poll operates.
By itself, the results don’t necessarily signify anything remarkable because we don’t have anything to compare them to yet.
But hey, we do seem really happy. On a scale of 0 to 10, members averaged a 7.3 in what we call the Power Poll Happiness Index.
In our Power Power Poll Economic Predictor Index, members averaged a 6.2, which is certainly above the median of 5 but less than the happiness score.
Meanwhile, I would say the general anxiety levels of Power Poll members seemed to be rather high. Our Anxiety Index came in at 5.5. These are clearly not easy times.
Finally, in our Power Poll Political Confidence Index, we faced a small rebellion from our members who disagreed with the phrasing of the question. Many argued that they could not judge local, state, and federal leaders “as a whole” and instead wanted to judge them individually. Which was a solid point. Regardless, confidence levels clocked in at a 4, which was the lowest of the four questions we asked.
In later months we will begin extrapolating all sorts of cool things that come from launching this across the country. Stay tuned.
Context 2: Megan Barry versus Mark Green
Our former mayor has not formally announced she will run against Green, but all indicators point that direction. Most of the chat lines flowing into the Power Poll offices describe Barry as facing an uphill challenge, but at the same time other factors will help her in this heavily Republican district. (When the Republicans carved up Jim Cooper’s 5th Congressional District into three pizza slices, Barry, who lives in the Belmont Hillsboro neighborhood, was placed in Green’s district, which stretches north to Clarksville.)
What are the things that might help Barry? Republicans can’t get it together in the U.S. House. Abortion is getting Democrats to the polls. The heavily Democratic Nashville is just itching for a brawl. And let’s face it, Barry is way talented.
Just over half predicted Green would win. Just over a fourth said Barry. The rest didn’t know. It will be a fun one to watch.
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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.
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