As the demand for behavioral health services grows every year, we look to innovation to address the many challenges.
Limited access and long wait times for psychiatric treatment in the U.S. are vexing problems. Nationally Medicaid patients often wait 7 weeks or more for an initial appointment. Treatment delays contribute to increased morbidity, disability, and potentially, suicide. We have seen a 50% surge in hospital emergency department visits over the last 10 years, with more than 6 million visits annually identifying a psychiatric crisis as the primary complaint.
Typically in Community Mental Health Centers like Mind Springs Health, pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy work independently, and inclusion of peers and case managers in treatment are “as needed”. Patient choice of treatment modalities cannot always be accommodated with clinic workflows and protocols, and appointments are most often determined by staff schedules (which are typically saturated), rather than clinical acuity or need. Treatment delays and inadequate intensity contribute to poor compliance and inadequate responses. Financial limitations and staff shortages required that novel approaches to care were explored.
To address these challenges of access, resource limitations, and patient engagement, we unencumbered ourselves of restrictive processes and thinking, and focused on innovating along core organizational values – person-centered care, evidence-based care, fiscal effectiveness, positive work environment. In doing so, we acknowledged there are “phases” to most patients’ illnesses as they move between different acuity states. Thus, Mind Springs Health’s Phase-based Care program began, with a goal to improve both clinical outcomes and patient engagement.
Developed by Chief Medical Officer Jules Rosen MD, Quality & Assurance Vice President David Hayden LPC, CAC III & Mind Springs Health Executive Vice President Michelle Hoy LPC, CAC III during a year-long Lean Six Sigma process, the program uses mathematical algorithms to help create multi-disciplinary treatment teams of therapists, medical providers, case managers and peers, and proportionately allocate resources towards acute-phase patients who need them the most. Every therapeutic interaction is measured with validated rating instruments specific to the consumer’s symptom profile.
Client outcomes have been nothing short of astounding and by the end of our fiscal year the program was widely available across Mind Springs Health’s 10-county service area.