Educating New Leaders: Thoughts from the CBHA Conference

I had the pleasure of presenting in Illinois recently at the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association Conference (CBHA). The CBHA is an organization representing the interests of the Behavioral Health community in Illinois. Like so many other states, Illinois is in the midst of change, embracing the many federal opportunities available to improve its network of long term services and supports and provide improved care through integration and coordination of LTSS. Illinois is making changes to system of care through structural, regulatory and enhanced funding opportunities. Initiatives like No Wrong Door, Conflict Free Case Management and the utilization of a Cores Standardized Assessment are focused on giving providers the tools they need to move forward with improved Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Youth services to Illinois citizens.

In addition to these promising initiatives, Illinois is facing a change that many others are facing as well: the changing leadership in government. What does it mean? For starters it means uncertainty. Uncertainty about who will manage the system at a state level, who the new commissioners, new directors, new contact staff will be. It also means uncertainty in direction and focus: whether existing initiatives continue or be scrapped, and whether there will be a change in direction, a different approach instituted. Will the new government be pro-Behavioral Health or look to cut funding? These questions and more are often not easy to answer, and often take months and years to be answered.

However uncertain things seem, this doesn’t mean that we should embrace a “wait and see” attitude. No, quite the opposite. Now is the time to educate the new leaders, now is the time make sure you are the most prepared, meeting obligations and operating effectively and efficiently. If you have an EHR, think about how you can better use it as an instrument for agency and program improvement. Create reports that show your benefit to consumers of your service and to the state or other governing bodies. Use your data to better position yourself for whatever might be coming. Here at Foothold we call it “Future-proofing your agency through the use of data.” The time is now. One of the key messages coming out of the CBHA conference was that if you do not have an EHR that can easily create reports, track pertinent data, and help you operate, it is time to get one. The future is here.