The Magnificent Seven: Practical Action For Heroic Behavioral Health Results

By Glenn Lippman, MD, DFAPA and Nancy Newberry, CMAA

Volume 2 Issue 16, August 4, 2015

tt152-79eb54f9-6c1d-4ca6-9f29-2ac88a6a5cb1-v2What makes a behavioral healthcare organization great?  As in the iconic Western, The Magnificent Seven, it is a blend of people, careful attention to details, agility, and determination.  As you strive to make your company magnificent, consider the following:

1. Data Rules The Day.  You can’t know if you have quality services, or if those services work, if you don’t know their outcomes.  What percent of people you serve end up in psychiatric crisis or are unnecessarily re-admitted?  How many people stay sober?  For how long?  Embrace data analytics and use this evidence to consistently improve clinical and management practices.

2.  Know Your Numbers.  Do you maintain ready access to financial metrics such as cost of care, return on program investment, and EBITDA?  It is one thing to collect data, but do you routinely and intelligently share your financial metrics internally to improve results and service quality outcomes? Accountability and transparency are hallmarks of great companies.

3.  Encourage Health Awareness.  Most major health plans encourage people to monitor health risks such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and other customized indicators.  What monitoring tools can people use to monitor their sobriety or their mental status and how do you incorporate in the culture of your agency’s treatment philosophy?

4.  Recognize Talent As A Precious Resource.  Are there mechanisms in place to improve staff retention and encourage staff development at all levels?   Healthy and involved employees are happier, more productive, and foster a successful business environment.  In today’s work environment, the opportunity to be autonomous and innovative is a dynamic way to recognize the next generation of talent.

5.  Mitigate Unnecessary Risk.  Is your organizational culture oriented towards proactive risk management?  What education, communication, and continuous reassessment strategies are in place to mitigate risk?  Risk is most effectively minimized in environments when people have clear expectations and the necessary tools and support to provide great service.

6.  Take Your Plan Off The Shelf!  A successful behavioral healthcare entity puts a structure in place to assure their strategic/business plan guides the organization.  It becomes a part of future budgeting, while enabling the company to be competitive with accurate projections and contract proposals.  The key is regularly monitoring performance and having leadership that is accountable for implementation.

7.  Practice Agility.  Continuous learning will always be important and it is especially essential to be able to quickly implement this knowledge in today and tomorrow’s new behavioral health and substance abuse treatment environments.  Your customers, funders, and community expect it in our increasingly new age of consumerism.

The Magnificent Seven were courageous, focused and passionate in battle against marauding bandits.  While not in the same degree of peril, the new behavioral healthcare marketplace is fraught with unknowns and challenges.  Regardless, the principles of action are the same and the heroism of daily best practice is our greatest answer.