Objective evaluation is critical to assessing and improving the performance of any public health system- including the  behavioral health system that we manage.  One of the ways we assess our behavioral health system is to conduct a “Quality Services Review”, which identifies strengths, service capacity gaps, and areas for improvement at a system-wide level.

A couple of weeks ago a final Quality Service Review was published for our Maricopa County service area for folks living with a serious mental illness.  The final report summarizes the services provided and not provided, access to care, selected outcomes, conclusions, and recommendations.  The report indicated both positive trends in the current system of care as well as opportunities to enhance the system.

The report found both strengths and weaknesses in our system.  Strengths included a finding that services provided matched the individuals’ needs identified on their Individualized Service Plan 82% of the time. About 88% of individuals surveyed agreed that their service location was convenient and 84% agreed that service times were convenient. Individuals reported that about 81% of services were provided within 30 days once a need was identified.

Areas that need some work include progress notes.  Individuals’ needs in their assessment were consistent with the needs identified in the progress notes in about 59% of the cases.  About 69% of surveyed folks were reported that they were involved in meaningful daily activities.  While 95% had housing, only 9% were employed.  Respondents also reported the need for better service in the areas of supported housing and employment, living skills, family and peer support.  Of course- what I’ve described here is just a snapshot- and the full report provides a lot more detail.

We’ll be using the results of this Quality Service Review as well as follow-up analyses to help us as we continue to improve public health outcomes for folks living with a serious mental illness.  This was the first time that we used this type of system assessment…  and we’ve discovered a few areas that we need to improve in the tool.  We’ll be working with the contractor to make sure that the continuing version of the Review captures all the information we need to make a solid system assessment.