NATCON is the biggest event for behavioral health professionals, and is organized by the National Council for Behavioral Health – the unifying voice of America’s mental health and addiction treatment organizations. Conference attendees mingle and learn from one another; attend sessions about issues plaguing behavioral health; participate in documentary screenings; and are inspired by expert speakers.
This year, the conference was held in Washington DC from April 23-25, 2018. I had the pleasure of attending along with the TenEleven team. It was such a busy few days, but I kept a journal of topics I heard being discussed at the conference.
Finding Value in Value of Care Equation
Value of care was a big topic at NATCON 18. Behavioral health professionals were coming together to decide how they can deliver the best care with the most value to their clients. There are four main components that must be present to achieve value of care:
- Services provided – there needs to be timely access to clinical and medical services, service array, duration & density of services through Level of Care/Benefit Design Criteria and/or EBPs that focus on population based service needs.
- Cost of services – it’s important to not only know what your outcomes are, but how much it costs you to deliver the services that produce those outcomes
- Outcomes achieved – there needs to be a way to demonstrate that people are getting better through outcomes tools such as the DLA-20
- Determine Value – based upon achieving the same or better outcomes with a corresponding understanding of how much it costs providers to deliver those services
Ensuring that you’re implementing these four aspects will help you ensure that you’re providing the highest value of care for your clients, and when you enter a value based payment negotiation you’ll be able to tell the payers how good you are and know how much you need to be compensated for delivering on those outcomes
Haters’ Gonna Hate – Security’s Gonna Secure
You handle a lot of protected health information (PHI) and want to make sure that it’s safe. With so many behavioral health minds at NATCON 18, data safety was bound to come up. There are a few things to consider when making sure that your PHI is properly protected.
You want to complete a Security Risk Assessment to figure out a security roadmap that you can implement, reflect upon, and reassess. You’ll continually reassess your processes to ensure that you’re not leaving anything out, and it’s the best it can be.
Your leadership must commit both time and money to security. Security is an investment and it takes time to find the program and process that works for your organization, and to train your staff on it.
Consider the following safeguards:
- Develop policies and procedures
- Prepare and communicate periodic security reminders on new or critical issues
- Execute business associate agreements with contracts creating, transmitting, or storing PHI
- Develop an inventory of the physical systems and devices
- Develop policies for Disaster Recovery plans, and test them
- Decide to either remove or destroy PHI from devices
- Create access permissions for the proper roles
- Find an EHR that pulls audit logs in case of a breach to see who accessed what records and what they did while they were there
- Consider having people automatically logged out after a period of inactivity
Make sure that you have your policies written down and clearly stated. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist and cannot be enforced. You’ll also want to implement security training for new employees and refresh trainings for current employees as well as periodic policy reviews.
Why track outcomes with the DLA-20?
The Daily Living Activities 20 (DLA-20) is a helpful outcomes measurement tool that helps clinicians accurately track how their clients are improving.
Chrysalis Health in Florida began using the DLA-20 and noticed improved results. Before the DLA-20, their data was symptom driven and mostly subjective. Now, it is easier for them to compare how their clients are currently doing to how they were doing before by using the measurements from the DLA-20.
Their clients typically come into their facility with a score of 3 or 4 and leave with a score of 5 or 6. In their evidence-based practice facility, this helps them recognize approximately how much service will be needed.
Using the DLA-20 has helped Chrysalis to improve their outcomes and their efficiency.
For accuracy, you want to make sure that clinicians and clients are staying faithful to the measure and not drifting away from the anchors. Clinicians want clients to get better, so if they use the previous DLA-20 administration instead of the measurement anchors as their guide, they can artificially inflate their client scores.
Consider having both the client and the clinician filling out the assessment separately and then compare.
CCBHCs, Trauma Informed Care, & the Opioid Crisis, Oh My!
As you can imagine, with over 5,000 attendees and 3 days of information, many more topics were covered. I heard attendees discussing: CCBHCs; Trauma Informed Care; the Opioid Crisis; the status of our incarcerated population; social media for executives; changes to Medicaid; and more.
Seeing Some Familiar Faces
It was great to see so many of our customers stop by our booth to say hello. Take a look at our team before the Day 1 started below:
Attending this conference not only reminded me how nuanced behavioral health is, but how many dedicated and passionate people are working in this field and are dedicated to improving the lives of their clients.