Quietly, after more than a year’s worth of planning, Swope Health Services launched a transformational program to improve access to mental health services.
SHS Behavioral Health is now a designated Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. SHS is one of 15 agencies in Missouri named to participate in a two-year demonstration project, directed by the federal government. There are a total of eight states participating.
The point of the demonstration project? To make it easier for the community to access a broad spectrum of behavioral health services.
“This is all about giving our patients easier access to new services,” said Mark Miller, SHS Vice President of Behavioral Health. “Our goal was to make it seamless, so patients wouldn’t have any disruption in care. Instead, they now see more things they didn’t know they could get from us.”
For example, some of the differences patients can see are:
The Behavioral Health Children’s Services Clinic at SHS Central, a new space that integrates children’s psychiatric services, therapies and programs, with added security in separation from adult programs. The new space features a bright lobby and reception area, a community conference room, children’s play area plus access to all the children’s services. This new space opened Jan. 16, 2018.
- A new service focused on Children’s Substance Abuse.
- The new Opioid Clinic, launched in Fall 2017.
- A new program focused on Hospital Discharge Coordination. In this program, SHS undertakes outreach to hospitals to coordinate transition of care for SHS patients.
- Enhanced staffing, with the addition of three new Children’s Therapists, five new Care Coordinators and other positions behind the scenes.
Some of the biggest changes actually are occurring behind the scenes, Miller noted.
For example, one part of the new CCBHC program revises the entire financial model, moving from charging a fee for every service to a single rate that covers all the services a patient chooses.
There is an emphasis on value, making sure clients are receiving as much support as they need.
“This model gives us a little more freedom to support our clients,” Miller said. “We’ve enhanced both the quality of care and the access to care.”
SHS has been operating under this new model for about six months, and is reviewing data from the program to assess performance.
The Behavioral Health team is using the data to guide changes and where needed, make additions to the programs.
“With the new qualitative data, we’ve had some ‘a-ha’ moments,” Miller said. For example, based on data, the team has reorganized some functions and realigned some services for maximum impact.
“We are becoming more savvy in decision-making and understanding the impact of our decisions through the data,” he said. “The data helps us respond to community needs and guides how we solve problems.”
Since this is a pilot program, SHS is in a position of leadership to influence the ultimate design of the program. It’s expected that this program will be rolled out across the state.
This experience gives SHS the opportunity to influence related and complementary programs, such as those run by Jackson County or Kansas City, while also expanding access to quality Behavioral Health programs.
“We’re ahead of the curve,” Miller said. “We’ve enhanced the access to our care and we’ve enhanced the quality of our care.”