Last week, I outlined goals and priorities for the Licensing Division in the coming year.  This week I’ll hit on the Division of Behavioral Health…

One of our primary objectives will be to better integrate behavioral health, physical health, and wellness at the “retail” level (i.e. at the point of care).  By strengthening integration and collaboration with community health centers and other providers of primary care, we expect to improve overall wellness as well as lower the use of emergency departments, decrease admissions and readmissions to hospitals, improve service delivery and improve adherence to treatment plans.  This’ll translate into lower healthcare costs while producing improved health outcomes.  To kick off this year-long effort- we’ll be spearheading a statewide, day-long forum in late January called Integrated Models of Care.  It’s being funded by the Milbank Foundation and will bring together leadership from the behavioral health and community health centers, acute care health plans, AHCCCS, Legislators, and other important stakeholders to address how we can more effectively integrate care & have a positive impact on overall public health and wellness in Arizona.

Another priority will be to roll-out our new ADHS Behavioral Health Outcomes Dashboard.  It’s kind of like a consumer reports report that doubles as a performance touchstone.  The Dashboard will track important performance measures statewide and by Regional Behavioral Health Authorities in the areas of access to care, coordination of care, service delivery, and quality of life outcomes. The Dashboard will provide helpful information to our stakeholders on our performance while demonstrating our ongoing commitment to transparency.  As I’ve mentioned before, we need to be more focused on actual outcomes rather than processes.  We need to turn timely, accurate, and meaningful data to information we can use and act on. This priority will help us in our constant quest to do better but also to recognize progress and achievements along the way.

A third priority is our relationship with stakeholders, including individuals and family members receiving services in our system, advocates, and providers.  The importance of a unified community with common goals, mutual trust and respect cannot be underestimated. Especially during these challenging economic times, strong relationships can facilitate compromise, creativity, and system stability and resilience. Strong leadership is needed, and we’re  committed to meeting that need.

We’ll also continue to focus on overall efficiency, reducing paperwork and maximizing the use of electronic data systems.  We’ll be eliminating our mandated clinical assessment tool that has been in place for many years; instead we’ll focus on making sure that adequate credentialing and clinical supervision occurs for providers who conduct assessments and that clinical outcomes demonstrate individuals are getting better.  The need for service providers have more “face-to-face time” with individuals (instead of filling out paperwork) is something we clearly need to address better.  This will be a big year for behavioral health.