Improvements for Behavioral Healthcare At Your Fingertips

While my previous post focused its attention on the emphasis on primary healthcare at the recent HIMSS14 conference, it was not to discredit the opportunities within reach of the behavioral health industry and my many ideas and takeaways from this experience. I want to focus on the two that resonated the deepest with me – strategic use of data and Interoperability.

We are living in an era where data comes at us from every direction. Many are under the impression that quantity rules over all else; however, I walked away from HIMSS under a different set of ideas – quality data is the first step toward improved care. I sat in a session on an electronic intake initiative and saw how all of the information they were collecting had a distinct clinical use. We need to begin to recognize the value of useful information and learn from the successes of others in order to pinpoint trends within the industry as a whole. Something to also be cognizant of is “dashboards.” They are pretty and can be a very valuable tool, but if they are not customized to their user and organization, if they do not use the information in a productive manner, they can easily turn into clutter. In a similar vein, it is important to make sure you are using your report writing capacity in a beneficial way – reports without decision-making purposes become more of an obstruction than an aide. Mobility also plays a key role in the collection of data, especially in making your collection the most efficient it can be. Both primary and behavioral healthcare are moving further into the community and out of the office. Being mobile capable means the elimination of double data entry and offers real time updates to your client charts. All of these points combined means a new era for behavioral health, one with better outcomes and more efficient practices.

I could talk more about the ways I envision data being used for behavioral healthcare in the not-too-distant future, but I want to move on to the biggest opportunity I took away from HIMSS – Interoperability. For years, those of us in the field have seen that when primary and behavioral care is integrated more times than not the outcomes and well being of the client improves, and this technology is available! At the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, I witnessed, firsthand, the transfer of data between multiple providers, with Foothold’s AWARDS software being a key tool in this process. Interoperability ensures that everyone involved in an individual’s healthcare is working together with the latest assessments, up to date list of prescriptions, most current labs, and other information pertinent to that individual’s recovery to deliver the best and most informed quality of care. The future of integrated care is now, and the need to prepare with the latest IT advances is essential.