In part one of our series reviewing the challenges for the healthcare industry in 2020, we reviewed the utilization of technology and the ability to adapt as key areas of focus for administrators of rural health facilities. In part two, we shift our attention to behavioral health.
2019 brought increased visibility to the gaps in access to quality behavioral healthcare and created a national discussion on reducing the stigmas around seeking mental health services. While this progress is a positive sign, the behavioral health industry overall ended the last decade facing struggles with funding and a depleting talent pool.
For executives like Michael Slack, President and CEO of KidsPeace, which offers behavioral and mental health services to children, families and communities in Schnecksville, Penn., the end of 2019 highlighted the problems for both patients and providers. “Unfortunately, due to gaps in staffing (and funding), some services we offer actually turned away more people in need than they served,” said Mr. Slack. “This has an obvious financial impact on our organization, but more importantly, given the evidence supporting the need for early and consistent intervention to successfully treat mental health conditions, this is a tragic circumstance for individuals having to wait long periods of time to access care.”
In the new year, behavioral health is an area where hope for real change is palpable. “The shift to a more population health focus in the industry, in general, has opened more minds to the value of mental health in the overall treatment of an individual,” said Mr. Slack.
Additional opportunities in 2020 for behavioral health include:
Recruitment and retention.
As the need for mental health services increases, so does the demand for quality mental health team members. This service need creates an opportunity for forward-looking organizations to put strategies in place to recruit and retain top talent. “Recruitment and retention continue to be at the forefront of priorities and risks in 2020,” said Mr. Slack. “Identifying, attracting and keeping talented and dedicated professionals who are willing and able to treat the escalating mental health needs of the clients we serve is the greatest organizational challenge we face.” To capitalize on this opportunity, it is critical to:
- Align your mission, vision and values to attract the right team members
- Put support systems in place to enhance the employee experience of your current team
- Maintain an on-going recruitment strategy
Increases in mental health benefits.
As the need for services grows across the country, access to services becomes a more significant factor in the selection of health coverage. For this reason, employers in 2020 will offer more benefits and initiatives to support their employees’ complete well-being. To increase access to care and limit the barriers of stigma, many employers plan to include anti-stigma campaigns and develop employee assistance programs to encourage team members to seek support. Benefits will extend beyond mental health to address the entire well-being of the employee, including offering sleep support and relaxation programs, onsite yoga and mindfulness sessions.
To respond to this trend, it will be important for behavioral health organizations to:
- Design their offerings with the needs of the community in mind
- Ensure marketing efforts focus on support
- Work alongside coverage providers to create service solutions that work
Collaboration and cooperation in population health.
As we enter the new year, the healthcare industry continues its movement to a value-based model of care. Driving this transition is the increased competition coupled with a patient population that expects high-quality service and easy access to information. These drivers have created an opportunity for all providers to collaborate across the continuum and create an optimal support system for patients. “We are beginning to see opportunities for partnership with our physical health counterparts where together we can make meaningful improvements in service delivery to improve health,” said Mr. Slack.
To create improved opportunities for patients in the new year:
- Find opportunities to treat the patient holistically
- Create ways to partner within the community
- Clearly state the services and solutions offered
Many thanks to Michael Slack for sharing his valuable insight with us for this piece. For more information on KidsPeace, click here.
As you work to align your organization with the opportunities ahead in the new year, it is essential to have the best possible team in place. To learn more about how to create a successful strategy for 2020, connect with the experienced team at Cejka Search here.