Changes Affecting the Future of Health and Human Services

First we wrote about the six trends that are going to change the future of healthcare; then we had a chat with our colleague Natasha regarding the changes affecting the future of the intellectual and developmental disabilities field. Now, continuing our ongoing series, we caught up with Kristi McClure, LCSW and John Jay, Relias Learning Product Managers for Health and Human Services.

Kristi has more than 20 years of experience in the health and human service industry, the majority of that time working as a direct practitioner with children, adolescents and adults in both outpatient and residential/inpatient settings. She has worked with Relias for almost 10 years, initially working with customers on getting the most out of Relias products and for the last few years, managing the content products for HHS.

John is passionate about the healthcare industry, has been working with Relias for more than a year and a half, and during that time started the community health customer advisory board, conducted over 150 customer calls and participated in key industry events to learn more about the markets we serve.  He is passionate about creating products that help organizations better serve vulnerable populations.

How are services, specifically in the behavioral health field, changing? What’s driving these changes?

John: The biggest change on the horizon for behavioral healthcare is how you deliver services and the main driver for that change is payment reform. When you look at payment reform, there’s a big push to move away from the traditional fee-for-service model of payment and towards the value-based payment arrangement. Fee-for-service models are not financially stable and don’t always encourage improving quality of care. So when you change the arrangement to a value-based system and you reimburse based on how well you provide services or how much clinical outcomes improve, you are lowering costs (because fewer people are coming back for additional care) and providing better services.

Kristi: Integrated care and treating the whole person is driving change in behavioral health, as well as primary care, and driving improved coordination between these two, previously separate, systems. The health system in general has realized that the mental and behavioral health component of healthcare really is a significant way to help lower costs. We’re seeing the integration of services, meaning treating the physical and mental comprehensively. Healthcare is really starting to combine behavioral health – addictions, mental health, and so on – with the realm of traditional healthcare; it’s a trend that is becoming more and more predominant.

How will providers need to adjust in response?

Kristi: The traditional health provider will have to learn how to work in a new healthcare environment as they become more involved in primary care services. For example, helping treat people holistically rather than just addressing isolated behavioral health problems. Learning to integrate these two types of care, both physical and mental, is critical to the change that is happening in healthcare and how organizations provide services.

Being prepared for change and having your staff ready to adjust in the way they provide services is also important. The organizations that really have their staff prepared are likely to succeed much more in a new payment environment than organizations that don’t prepare staff for how their roles will change in the ways they provide services.

Do you see changes in the workforce?

John: Change is hard! People are often afraid of change and slow to adjust to it. The better prepared teams are for change and the more willing they are able to accept it, the better they’ll adapt to the specifics of how it will impact their role. It’s not only training staff on the change, but training them on what they need to do as an individual to be prepared for that change. Organizations are also looking at leadership at all levels and how they can lead, support and navigate overall organizational change.  They are a key component to a successful transition to different models of service delivery and performance measures.

What types of development and training will organizations need to provide? Are there new types of training that will be most useful?

John: Learning more about integration and integrated care will be critical. Integration is not just a buzzword or hot topic, it really is a big shift in how we are assessing and treatment the population we serve.  It involves not just integrating the physical with the mental component of a person, but looking at prevention, education, use of peer support and other natural support systems, and coordination of care across multiple types of providers. As behavioral providers adjust to this new future of healthcare, those who understand how the physical and mental affect each other, the more easily they can identify problems.

What does the ideal staff member look like a couple of years from now? How is that different from today?

John: A few years from now, the ideal staff member will have a lot more responsibility and more roles to take on. Not necessarily in terms of specific services they have to provide, but the evolving role of the healthcare provider will mean doing and managing more. Providers will really have to have a broader general knowledge of things they didn’t have to before. In a couple of years, a traditional behavioral health direct care worker will know more about other services that they don’t typically provide or how those other services are impacted by what their primary service is.

How does technology play a role in these changes?

Kristi: Electronic Health Records (EHR) are becoming increasingly important in data analytics as we move into this new healthcare environment that is more quality based and where reimbursements are based off performance metrics. More providers are adopting EHRs as part of meaningful use, a Medicaid program that is encouraging providers to use Electronic Health Record technology.

Health self-management tools are also a growing industry and use of technology in the healthcare field (myStrength or Build your own WRAP, for example).  Encouraging clients to better assess and manage their own health is not only client-centered, but also ties directly into prevention and education efforts as a way to improve both clinical outcomes and achieve cost-effectiveness goals.

Having a system like the Relias Learning Management System can really help provide targeted trainings to staff members who need specific information on how their roles might change, and help organizations be ready to adopt those changes. As roles change, having the ability and flexibility to assign specific courses without having to bring someone in to do live training is a huge asset.

Are you and your organization experiencing these changes? We’d love your comments and questions.


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