Performance Metrics for Agencies: Ignore at Your Own Peril

This guest post is by Adrian Allain, Transitional Services for NY (TSI).

Ignoring data and performance metrics will be at an agency’s peril. As behavioral healthcare is being dragged into the data arena, and reluctantly so, many agencies have ignored the need to measure outcomes, through data collection and analysis. Many other agencies are not aware that the data we collect can be collated and turned into meaningful metrics that will help us demonstrate performance. Gone are the days when it was enough to tell our funders, “Well, we provide great services”; now we have to prove it.

At our agency, Transitional Services for NY (TSI), we’ve made it a high priority to use our data for the purposes of analysis and demonstration of performance. We’re a nonprofit mental health corporation in contract with the City and the State to provide community-based services to individuals recovering from mental illness, serving over 2500 individuals annually. Our services include a PROS (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services) program, vocational services, Behavioral Healthcare coordination, psychiatric rehabilitation and self-help programs, educational assistance, and a clinic. We also have a variety of residential programs, from 24-hour supervised to supported housing.

All of our programs utilize a recovery-based approach to mental health. We’ve been using Foothold’s AWARDS EHR as our database system for many years, and use it to collate our data and create meaningful performance metrics. For example, at the beginning of each year our department submits an incident trend report to the CEO and the Board of Directors. Literally at the click of the mouse, we are easily able to pull up and sort through vast amounts of data to pull out exactly what we need to do our assessments.

Many current revenue sources require us to measure outcomes, including PROS and incident management and so on. While these requirements have not been rigorously enforced in the past, those days are soon to be gone. The recent new initiatives, including Health Homes and Care Coordination, as well as the soon-to-be reality of Medicaid Managed Care, will require providers to demonstrate outcomes tangibly using performance metrics. So as we move forward into the brave new world of behavioral healthcare, our survival is literally determined by our ability to turn the data we collect into meaningful performance outcomes.

About TSI
Transitional Services for New York, Inc. is a not for profit multi-faceted mental health corporation which, in contract with New York City and the State of New York, provides community based services to individuals with mental disabilities. Transitional Services for New York, Inc. admitted its first clients for residential services in 1975 and currently serves over 2500 individuals annually.