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TCOM & CANS Founder John Lyons Says – “Do the right thing!”

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We just finished the 5th annual user conference, now known as TenEleven CONNECT, and among the many highlights there is one in particular I have found myself talking about the past few days to friends and family and anyone who will listen. To get things started on Day 1 the conference keynote speaker Dr. John Lyons, a Senior Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, presented his work on Transformational Collaborative Outcomes Management: Managing the business of helping.

Dr. Lyons shared a wealth of information that included catastrophizing and minimizing in both parents and youth that lead to changing measurements that are not based on improvements during treatment, but rather on a new awareness by the child or the parent on the reality of the mental health situation. He discussed how important physical proximity of clinics is to reaching those in need of mental health services. He outlined how in the absence of good measurement important resource decisions are being made based on the loudest episodes, not based on the areas demonstrating the greatest need.

But amidst all the incredible research and theory, there was still a more simple thread throughout his talk that held the most meaning. Produce meaningful outcomes for behavioral health clients because it’s the right thing to do. I immediately thought of the iconic Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing, which highlights racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood.  While racial tension and behavioral health service delivery are ostensibly different, the message of both Dr. Lyons and Spike Lee is to do the hard work that is necessary to cut through all the noise so that you can do the right thing, for the right reasons.

The behavioral health industry is currently consumed with creating reports and demonstrating outcomes improvements because of the transition to managed care, but Dr. Lyons didn’t say the words managed care once in over an hour. Instead, he advocates for a shift in service delivery that focuses on substantially improving the quality of life for those in need by providing the best services to those who need them in order to create the best outcomes so you can in turn provide your best services to more individuals in need. Suggesting that the current model is to provide mid-range services to those in need in order to continue to provide mid-range services to the same individuals in need for an extended period of time in order to marginally improve their quality of life. This for the sake of clinician productivity and revenue in the service delivery model.

Produce positive outcomes because it’s the right thing to do. He said it over and over again. Changing the focus away from a service delivery model to transformation management will put the focus on treating challenging individuals instead of increasing productivity with traditional time measurements. If the focus remains on doing the right thing for treatment recipients, the business will follow.

The fortunate thing about having this conversation today is that the payment model is beginning to change to support this concept.  But even when it does, should we be providing the best services because that’s what it takes to get paid be enough to drive positive outcomes?  If you ask Dr. Lyons, wouldn’t it be easier just to do it because it’s the right thing to do?

A staggering percentage of individuals leave treatment against the advice of their clinician, and general wisdom says that if a client of any service is seeing improvement they are more likely to continue the service.  In the case of behavioral health services there are plenty of individuals in need to fill caseloads, which means providing a quality service that results in a shorter treatment period to discharge is not going to threaten the financial viability of a clinic’s business, it will improve it.

Listening to Dr. Lyons talk about measurements and outcomes in the context of doing the right thing instead of under the threat of managed care was refreshing and inspiring, and hopefully this message will re-inspire those who got into this business in the first place to help people to get back to focusing on doing the right thing for the those in need.

Improving outcomes requires the right data management. You may also enjoy the blog post about: Business Drive and Technology Enables, or the White Paper Reports Don’t Improve Outcomes!

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