Deborah Jean Parsons, Ph.D. Director of Integrated Care at Aspire Health Alliance

Dr. Parsons is an experienced professional in the fields of children’s mental health, social services, and healthcare in Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Boston College and the Heller School at Brandeis University, where she completed her research and dissertation on children’s mental health services in 2012. Dr. Parsons has worked for over 25 years in program design, operation, and management—having developed and run two innovative models of service delivery for children, youth, and families. She’s served as a consultant for the Association for Behavioral Healthcare and as adjunct faculty at Quincy College, Lasell College, and the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

From 2015 – 2017, Dr. Parsons successfully implemented a $3,500,000 Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation grant from the Health Policy Commission to reduce hospital utilization for high-cost, high-need patients. She is currently leading two Community Partner programs in the Massachusetts Medicaid Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program. Community Partners provide high-quality care coordination for adults in MassHealth who have complex physical, behavioral health, and social needs. The purpose of these programs is to integrate primary care, behavioral health services, and social resources to help individuals achieve healthier outcomes and community stability.

Dr. Parsons Shares Her Views on Addressing the Needs of Underserved Communities Amid COVID-19

The United States spends more money than any country across this globe on healthcare and we do not get the same health outcomes. We do not have a healthcare system that works the same for everybody. It works much better if you have money and you have commercial insurance or you can pay for healthcare without commercial insurance. For those people, that’s great. I don’t worry about them that much because they will get the care they need. The people that cost our healthcare system the most in the drag on of social services and resources in the community are the people that we’re trying to target. If we save money not only for healthcare but did I mention we were going to help them live healthier more stable lives? That’s a win/win for everybody

Dr. Parsons Outline the link between Population Health and Care Coordination

“Evidence is mounting that care coordination focused around the whole person that is bringing all providers under one platform is effective for reducing cost and improving health care”

— Deborah Jean Parsons, Ph.D.

Dr. Parsons Outline of Underserved Communities and Health Care Cost

When you look at the medicaid population which is poor and disabled to begin with because that is how one qualifies for medicaid services. Then you stratify that population by needs, low medium and high along with expenses of low, medium and high, it is the top five percent of the medicaid population that spends 50% of medicaid money. They are the people living in the most challenging of situations. They are struggling with co-morbid conditions, they have diabetes, depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder as well as anxiety etc. We are working with people who are homeless, people who are in and out of prisons, single families, that are struggling with their issues and then children that have issues as well.

In the system unfortunately, they are not users of the healthcare system the way the worry-well would be. As a result their chronic conditions do not get cared for. We have alot of people that have either been undiagnosed or under treated for those who have been diagnosed. We have people who haven’t gone to the doctor in 13 years and for a lot of them they get their care in the emergency department. This population cost so much because of the cost of acute services.