The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Physician Delivery of Virtual and In-person Mental Health Care Services across Reformed Primary Care Payment Models in Ontario
This project aims to improve access to mental health care in primary care settings using lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lead: Nibene Somé
Dr. Nibene H. Somé is a Scientist and Health Economist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Somé applies microeconomic theory, statistical/econometric, and machine learning methods in health economics, health policy evaluation, and health services research. His research covers three specific areas: evaluating health care financing policies – physician’s compensation policy and government financial incentives programs; optimal delivery of mental health care into primary care settings; and understanding the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and substance use. His current research funding is from CIHR and the Ontario Ministry of Health.
A major part of Dr. Somé’s research builds theoretical microeconomic models to analyze physicians’ responses to contracts with different financial incentives. The models’ predictions are tested using large survey and administrative datasets on Ontario’s primary care physicians and Quebec’s specialists generated by natural experiments (using advanced econometric modelling). Additionally, he builds on his interdisciplinary background to develop innovative research using machine learning techniques to inform clinical and policy interventions geared toward reducing mental health and substance use problems using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborating with multidisciplinary researchers (economists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and clinicians), Dr. Somé successfully designed studies using large administrative datasets, contributing theoretically (building mathematical models) and empirically to health care policy evaluation. He has published his work in leading journals such as Health Economics, Social Science & Medicine, JMIR mental health, and BMC public Health.
Dr. Somé’s new CIHR Grant aims to investigate the impact of the implementation of new physician billing codes for virtual mental health services on the delivery of mental health care in Ontario’s primary care.