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How Can Large Practices Improve Patient Retention?

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Enterprise-scale mental health and substance abuse treatment programs are becoming increasingly common across the country. These programs offer comprehensive services to treat individuals suffering from addiction, mental illness, or both.

Most of these programs focus on providing long-term recovery support to their clients. They also provide intensive outpatient therapy sessions, group counseling, individualized case management, and other therapeutic interventions. The goal is to help patients develop the skills and knowledge necessary to maintain sobriety and improve their overall mental health.

The Challenges of Patient Retention

Despite the benefits of enterprise-scale treatment programs, patient retention can be a challenge. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that only 36% of patients who entered an inpatient substance abuse treatment program completed the program.
 
There are many reasons why patients may drop out of treatment, including:
 
Financial reasons: The high cost of mental health and substance abuse treatment is one of the most significant barriers to care. Patients often cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs, even with insurance. According to SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 42% of people with mental illness couldn’t afford the needed treatment. The study also found that nearly 20% of people with substance abuse disorders couldn’t afford treatment. The cost of care is especially prohibitive for low-income patients and patients in rural areas.
 
Lack of transportation: Lack of transportation can be a significant barrier to mental health care. Many patients live in rural areas or lack access to transportation, which can make it difficult to get to and from appointments. Sometimes, patients travel long distances to see a mental health provider, which can be costly and time-consuming. Lack of transportation can also prevent patients from promptly getting the care they need. In emergencies, this can lead to delays in treatment that can put patients at risk.
 
Treatment length: The time required to complete treatment can be a barrier for some patients. Inpatient treatment programs typically last 30 days, but some patients may need to stay longer. Outpatient programs may require weekly visits for several months. This can be difficult for patients who have work or family obligations.
 
Stigma: The stigma associated with mental illness and substance abuse is a significant barrier to care. Patients may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their illness, preventing them from seeking help. Additionally, they may worry about how others will perceive their illness. This can make it difficult for patients to discuss their symptoms and seek help.

The Importance of Patient Retention

Enterprise-scale treatment programs have the potential to make a significant impact on the mental health of their communities. However, patient retention is essential to the success of these programs. Patient retention ensures that patients receive the care they need to recover from their illness and maintain sobriety. It also allows treatment providers to track their patients’ progress and assess their treatment methods’ success.

Methods for Improving Patient Retention

Several evidence-based methods improve patient retention in enterprise mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

1. Increasing Awareness of Treatment Options

One way to improve patient retention is by increasing awareness of treatment options. Patients may not be aware of the types of treatments available or how to access them. Providers can increase awareness by providing information about substance use recovery and mental health care resources. This can be done through individualized care plans, educational materials, and community outreach. Increasing awareness of treatment options can help patients feel more comfortable seeking care and staying in treatment.

2. Providing Better Access to Services

Another way to improve patient retention is by providing better access to services. Patients may have difficulty getting to and from appointments or lack insurance coverage for mental health care. One way to combat this is by providing transportation assistance or partnering with local organizations that can provide resources for substance use recovery or mental health care. Additionally, providers can offer sliding-scale fees or accept insurance plans with mental health benefits. By providing better access to services, patients are more likely to seek care and stay in treatment

3. Reducing Stigma Associated with Mental Illness

The stigma associated with mental illness is a significant barrier to care. Patients may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their symptoms, preventing them from seeking help. One way to reduce stigma is by providing education about mental illness and substance use disorders. This can help patients feel more comfortable discussing their symptoms and seeking treatment. Additionally, providers can create a supportive environment that encourages open communication about mental health.

4. Offering Incentives to Stay Engaged

Programs that offer incentives to patients who stay engaged in treatment can play an important role in substance use recovery and mental health care. Incentives can help motivate people to stick with treatment, especially when starting out. They can also help to remind people of the importance of staying engaged in care. Some programs offer gift cards or vouchers as incentives, which can be used to purchase necessary items or services. Others offer rewards such as access to special events or experiences.

5. Creating a Culture of Support

Creating a culture of support is essential to retention in enterprise-scale mental health and substance abuse programs. This includes providing emotional support, offering encouragement, and celebrating milestones. It also means creating an environment where people feel safe sharing their experiences and challenges. A culture of support can help people feel more comfortable seeking care and staying in treatment.

Conclusion

Enterprise-scale mental health and substance abuse treatment programs have the potential to make a significant impact on the mental health of their communities. However, patient retention can be a challenge. By increasing awareness of treatment options, providing better access to services, reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, offering incentives to stay engaged, and creating a culture of support, enterprise-scale programs can improve patient retention and make a lasting difference in the lives of their patients.

TenEleven Can Help Optimize Your Billing Processes

If you’re looking for an EHR system that can help manage a large behavioral health organization, TenEleven has the features you need. Our system is designed to handle the complexities of billing and insurance for mental health and substance abuse recovery programs. We offer powerful EHR features such as:
  • Patient tracking: Our system allows you to track patient progress and outcomes over time. This information can be used to improve retention rates.
  • Billing and insurance: We offer comprehensive billing and insurance features that can help streamline your reimbursement process.
  • Patient engagement: Our system includes features that can help engage patients in their care. This includes appointment reminders, online portals, and patient portals.
  • Data reporting: Our system provides detailed data reports that can help you track progress and identify areas for improvement.
 
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