Outstanding results from national project lauded by National Council on Community Behavioral Health Care
Seven Counties Services, Inc., the region’s leading provider of mental health services, posted significant gains in patient access and patient satisfaction during a just completed nine-month national learning collaborative. The wait time for first appointments fell from over 15 days to under 5 days. The no-show rate for appointments dropped from 40 percent to 11 percent. Patient satisfaction with a newly piloted collaborative documentation practice exceeded 90 percent. The program also produced gains in clinician productivity.
The project was sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions and administered in partnership with the National Council on Community Behavioral Health Care. Seven Counties presented the remarkable results during a national webinar hosted by SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions on Thursday, June 14, 2012. More than 450 health care executives from across the nation participated in the webinar.
Seven Counties was one of 15 community mental health providers in the USA selected to participate in the nine-month program and the only one asked to present its results to a national audience.
The objective of the collaborative was to better prepare participating organizations for integrating the practices of primary and mental health care to achieve better outcomes for patients with both physical and mental illnesses. This type of service integration represents an emerging trend in health care delivery. Seven Counties focused on improving client access, quality of care, and clinical efficiency, as steps to achieving this goal.
Seven Counties adopted an “Open Access” policy for clinical intake appointments. For clients, this means they can come in the same day they request services. The move required a culture shift away from the rigidity of set schedules and ironclad appointment times. “It required a bit of an adjustment in patient flow and staffing patterns, but the end result is better client care, and that’s our goal,” says Kelley Gannon, COO of Seven Counties.
Additionally, Seven Counties implemented a practice known as collaborative documentation. In this practice, clients gain a greater control of and understanding about their treatment by actively participating in scribing the session notes and goal setting.
“It works by using the last 10 minutes of the appointment to openly discuss accomplishments and challenges from the session,” says Dr. Tony Zipple, President and CEO of Seven Counties. “Our post-session surveys revealed that, overwhelmingly, clients felt more involved in their treatment and want the practice to continue.” This has the additional benefit of helping the clinicians get a more timely and accurate note, as opposed to depending upon memory to complete a note, sometimes days later.
With these improvements in access and clinical care, Seven Counties recently applied for a SAMHSA grant for Integrated Care. If approved, this grant would enable Seven Counties’ to bring primary care to its West Broadway location through a partnership with Family Health Centers.
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