Demystifying behavioral health data collection and analysis for improved behavioral health outcomes.
By: Nate Lubold
Santa Clara is a large and diverse county in California, with a wide range of behavioral health services provided by private behavioral health organizations. The county has a fantastic centralized decision support center, accompanied by an equally fantastic group of committed providers. One of their historic challenges has been the lack of data collection tools to capturing clinical data in a meaningful way to enhance real-time decision making at the client level and simultaneously build an aggregate set of data to present to local and state officials.
In an effort to better support and fund the provider community, the county wanted a way to receive clinical data that is collected in the field, without increasing the workload burden on clinicians delivering services. The solution to this dilemma was a data collection tool in the form of an outcomes management software from Advanced Metrics.
As an implementation partner, I had the good fortune of being intricately involved in the deployment of this software. We created a landscape for behavioral health organizations to identify outcomes champions and analyze clinical data collection strategies. The implementation process in Santa Clara was especially interesting, due to the large number of people involved and the wide impact throughout the region.
Our team met with executive and clinical champions within the county, including community members and private providers who were excited about this opportunity to build a data collection tool specific to their needs. The partnership between Advanced Metrics and Santa Clara County has resulted in a successful implementation of innovation in the field of behavioral health. Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths data is being collected at the client level and used for real-time decision support. The basic premise of the data collection tool is that providers are already doing good work; let’s help them collect the data as part of their normal clinical routine and allow them to use the data to enhance treatment planning and showcase their clinical outcomes. Fast forward a year later, and Santa Clara is now poised and is ahead of the curve with the California statewide Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) mandate.
The CANS mandate requires all counties to use a standard data collection tool when working with children and families in a behavioral health setting. This mandate will create a common data language across the entire state of California. The CANS version, which is referred to as the California 50and the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (or PSC-35) are tools selected to help create this common language.
A statewide change of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight. A rolling implementation was established, allowing some counties to go live in July and others in October. This will help ensure a more seamless transition for providers as they work to identify solutions such as Advanced Metrics to implement the CANS and the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC-35). When pioneering change, there can be challenges. These challenges can also lead to opportunities for innovation and growth.
The process of implementing an outcomes software can be overwhelming for both small and large-scale projects. When doing it county wide, there is a need for partnership with an experienced support team. In Santa Clara, we had consistent communication throughout this process with the project manager and program champions from the very beginning, including requirements gathering, training and project kick off. Throughout our implementation, we continued to provide time to hear and visualize Santa Clara’s expectations, while balancing those needs with the request of the provider community. The organizations and clinicians serving the county’s children and families have incredible ideas and suggestions about how the outcomes system should work. One of the most significant challenges was prioritization of ideas and suggestions during the requirements gathering process. At Advanced Metrics, we learned a long time ago that our ‘science to service’ mission must drive our relationship with providers. We pride ourselves on being more than just a software vendor.
Our business model allows us to become a true partner with our clients. We don’t provide solutions and then walk away. We develop strong working relationships to assist organizations every step along the way, with the goal of ensuring that providers are comfortable using the system.
Using technology is essential to the success of many organizations. Having a data collection tool that allows you to capture and use data in a meaningful way is quickly becoming a standard within the human services field and beyond. However, it’s only one part of the equation. The technology needs to grow and change as the needs of the business evolve. Collaborating with an organization whose mission aligns with yours is critical. When the clinicians using the system access it in a way that positively impacts treatment delivery, that is a huge success. At Advanced Metrics, our mission is to provide you with a software solution that will exceed your data collection needs, and also partner with you to ensure success beyond the initial system implementation.
As you are navigating the changes occurring in California, or for that matter, anywhere in the world, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can provide support to your team, every step of the way.