Business Intelligence: A Powerful Ally in Tackling the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Crisis
There’s little doubt that, in the U.S., we are in an unprecedented mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) crisis. Now, healthcare business intelligence (BI) tools can be a game-changing ally in helping behavioral health leaders meet surging demand for services.
By making it easier to collect, integrate, analyze, and report on the end-to-end patient’s care journey, healthcare BI tools can help bridge the gap between raw data and strategic action. BI tools can pinpoint ways to improve behavioral health and SUD treatment, uncover opportunities to expand access to care and contribute to better health outcomes.
In this article, we’ll consider six ways in which behavioral health leaders are using BI tools to respond to the mental health and SUD crisis.
Allocating Resources to Meet the Greatest Need
Faced with chronic staffing shortages, effective resource allocation is a constant challenge for behavioral health and SUD treatment providers. By identifying high-need areas, BI tools can help you provide care where and when it’s needed most.
Imagine a scenario where you could identify a spike in crisis calls in a particular region, perhaps following a natural disaster or other localized traumatic event. Armed with data that shows an upward trend in client communication and new client intakes, you could allocate crisis intervention teams and resources to that area.
Improving Treatment Effectiveness
Assessing the effectiveness of treatments and interventions in behavioral health and SUD treatment can be complex. Treatment resistance, lapses in treatment adherence, relapses, family and social influences, and the lack of integration between medical and mental health treatment are all common issues in behavioral health and SUD treatment—and they can all prevent you from being able to assess treatment accurately.
With BI tools, you can get clearer insights into what works and what doesn’t at your medical practice. You can analyze data on client progress, treatment adherence, and recovery rates. You can identify which treatments yield the best results for specific client populations. Armed with these insights, you can more easily tailor treatment plans to individual needs, monitor progress, and improve the chances of successful outcomes.
Improving Care Coordination and Collaboration
Collaboration among different healthcare providers, social service agencies, and behavioral health or SUD treatment providers can help ensure that clients receive holistic care and better outcomes—care coordination and collaboration are essential to value-based care models. But variability in structures, funding models, focus, processes, and competencies can make it difficult to create integrated care plans that address both mental health and SUD issues.
BI tools can help you get comprehensive insights into operational and clinical data related to client outcomes, resource utilization, and care coordination processes. You can use these insights to identify areas for improvement and enhancement in care coordination.
For instance, you can use BI tools to identify a patient with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who may benefit from a coordinated approach across provider types. Once you identify the client, you can use BI tools to ensure that all the client’s providers align their care strategies and share treatment monitoring, leading to improved care outcomes.
Identifying Opportunities for Early Intervention and Prevention
With the ability to analyze historical patient data from across different systems, healthcare BI can help you identify trends and patterns related to mental health and substance abuse. By developing a more precise understanding of the factors that may contribute to the onset of issues, you can devise targeted preventive programs and early intervention strategies.
For instance, you might use BI to identify clients with certain demographic characteristics that are at higher risk of substance abuse. Then you could tailor community outreach programs and educational campaigns for those clients or groups, aiming to reduce the likelihood of SUD issues before they begin.
Optimizing Telehealth Services
Telehealth has become increasingly important in the delivery of behavioral health and SUD treatment, particularly for value-based care. Telehealth provides greater access to care, especially in underserved or remote areas. With BI tools, you can analyze telehealth utilization and patient satisfaction data to optimize virtual care offerings.
Consider a telehealth program that serves a rural community with limited access to mental health services. You can use BI tools to analyze data on client engagement. These insights can help you identify opportunities to better engage targeted populations in the community such as home-bound elderly citizens or single-parent families with children and limited transportation. Based on the insights you gain, you can tailor programs to these clients and then monitor effectiveness to optimize over time.
Streamlining Compliance and Reporting
Behavioral health organizations contend with a variety of compliance and reporting requirements and incentive-based programs, including HIPAA, 42CFR Part 2, Promoting Interoperability, Quality Payment Program (MIPS or APM), CCBHC programs, Value-Based Reimbursement (VBR), and other federal and local regulations. Complying with and reporting on compliance can become an administrative burden for resource-strapped behavioral health and SUD treatment providers. However, with BI you can not only automate and simplify compliance, you can transform them from burden to strategic advantage. With healthcare BI tools, you can proactively monitor KPIs, identify trends, and address any compliance issues promptly before they significantly affect your clients or your organization.
You can also use BI tools for compliance benchmarking, comparing performance metrics against industry standards and best practices to assess compliance and performance compared to established benchmarks. With this information, you can fuel a continuous improvement program and promote consistent adherence to quality standards.
Implementing an Effective BI Solution
BI solutions span a range of implementation choices. Which one you choose will depend on your unique requirements. Among the options are:
- Manual data compilation processes that aggregate data from different systems for analysis through spreadsheets.
- Standalone BI tools that complement their existing healthcare IT infrastructure.
- Integrated BI solutions that are part of a primary healthcare IT system, such as one of the Qualifacts behavioral health EHR platforms.
Many organizations find manual data processes and standalone BI tools lead to data silos that prevent a shared and comprehensive view of clients and treatments. They can make it difficult to access and analyze data in a timely fashion that gives the greatest opportunity for optimizing care. These approaches can also require time-consuming tasks and additional work from an already overburdened administrative staff. For these reasons, behavioral health leaders favor the significant advantages that integrated BI tools offer, particularly in terms of securely shared and timely access to client data and streamlined processes.
Harnessing BI for a Brighter Future in Mental Health Care
Healthcare BI tools are revolutionizing the way provider organizations respond to the mental health and SUD crises in our communities. By harnessing the power of data and analytics, providers are better able to address the most pressing healthcare challenges and improve patient outcomes. As the behavioral health landscape continues to rapidly change and demand for treatment strengthens, BI is proving to be a powerful tool for targeting care and improving outcomes.