When Mantra Health’s new VP of Care Delivery Larry Ozowara, MD, was a Division 1 wrestler at Stanford University, he experienced performance anxiety, but didn’t know how to identify it at the time. Without easy access to mental health care, the problem persisted.
“Despite majoring in psychology and getting a master's in psychology, I still didn't understand everything that was happening to me,” he says. “If I had a way of accessing mental health services more easily, it probably would have changed the outcome of my wrestling career.”
That experience is one of many reasons why Dr. Ozowara is so enthusiastic about his new role at Mantra Health, which started at the beginning of July. He understands the tremendous need for more effective, accessible mental health care on college campuses, which can make a significant difference in a young person’s life.
Following His Passion and Curiosity for Psychiatry
Dr. Ozowara was interested in a career in psychiatry in large part because he was stimulated by the challenges that persist in the field. After completing his BA and MA in psychology at Stanford, Dr. Ozowara went on to pursue a doctor of medicine (MD) degree at Stanford, and focused on biomedical ethics.
He initially thought he’d become a neurologist, but had a realization in his third year of medical school. While diagnosis of neurological conditions had drastically progressed over the years, development in treatment was still slow to advance, while the opposite held true in psychiatry. While it was hard to diagnose psychiatric conditions, there seemed to be a more robust and effective set of treatments available on the market, with more in active development.
“If you get dementia, there's only so many things you can do. You can't really change the trajectory of somebody's condition,” he says. “Whereas in psychiatry, it's almost the reverse. You may not have the most sophisticated diagnostic tools, but in terms of treatment, there are so many different ways that you can treat someone's depression or anxiety. That's what really interested me in the field.”
Dr. Ozowara went on to complete his psychiatry residency at Columbia University, then spent two years as an assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University, followed by another two years as assistant professor of psychiatry at University of California, Los Angeles, before working as the medical director of Valera Health.
“As I started to do this work more and more, I realized that the way in which mental health care is delivered is usually inefficient and sometimes ineffective,” says Dr. Ozowara. “Getting into the digital health space where I can actually be the driver of those changes was really exciting.”
Driving Process Improvements for Better Care Delivery
In his newly developed role of VP of Care Delivery, Dr. Ozowara is focused on three areas: therapy, medication management, and on-demand emotional support services. He’s working on improving and streamlining existing processes, as well as managing and overseeing Mantra Health’s in-house network of providers.
He wants to standardize various processes and implement new technology to enable more efficient and reliable care, such as automating the process of medication refillment. “With new systems and processes, we’ll be in the best position to help our patients get their needs met sooner or faster, while at the same time helping our providers focus solely on patient care,” he says.
He also wants to remind Mantra Health providers that their work is valued and their needs are being considered at a larger scale. He’s found that it’s all too common for providers in healthcare, whether it’s at digital organizations, hospitals, or outpatient clinics, to go unrecognized and undervalued.
“I want to be the person who changes that perception and experience for providers,” he says, and adds, “Clinical excellence starts with provider experience.”
Paving a New Path for the Mantra Health Clinic
“Since welcoming Larry, our new VP of Care Delivery, to the team, we’ve been able to seamlessly connect Care Operations and Care Delivery,” says Alicia Eggen, LMFT, VP of Care Operations at Mantra Health. “Larry’s innate ability to strike a harmonious balance between clinic needs and our overarching business objectives has not only enriched our collaboration but has paved the way for a seamless, efficient, and patient-centered care approach. Together, we’re not just defining standards, but elevating them.”
“I'm excited to figure out ways to improve care quality and clinical excellence, and to do that in a smart and cost-effective way,” he says. Doing so will bring better, more accessible mental health care to students.
While the world of psychiatry is typically bifurcated into adult psychology and child psychology, with young adults typically falling between these two categories, it’s an ongoing challenge for young adults to get the quality care they need.
“There’s this middle ground of young adults who are coming into their own, who have their own unique set of needs that don’t always respond to the traditional way of doing mental health care,” Dr. Ozowara says. “It’s really important to figure out ways to meet students where they are and improve the ways they access services.”
With Mantra Health, Dr. Ozowara hopes to change the way care is delivered and received on college campuses, so students like his former self are able to get the support they need when they really need it.
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