Danya Institute Inc.

Trends in Behavioral Healthcare: Join the Conversation – The Road Map to 2014

The Danya Institute is pleased to present this regular series of orignal articles on trends in the field of behavioral healthcare.  Our latest article is by special guest author  Douglas Canter on Executive Director Ryan Springer’s presentation on The Road Map to 2014 earlier this year.

“Specialty care knowledge is valuable,” said Ryan Springer, the Executive Director of The Danya Institute, at an April 25, 2012, health care reform symposium in Towson, Maryland. “You come from a place of strength,” he told the audience of behavioral and substance abuse healthcare workers.

The April 25 symposium was presented by The Danya Institute, the Open Society Institute of Baltimore, and NIATx. It focused on the transition to January 2014, when key provisions of the Affordable Care Act become effective. The Supreme Court largely affirmed the Affordable Care Act in June 2012.

Mr. Springer emphasized key concepts that behavioral and substance abuse health care providers should keep in mind during the transition to 2014. “Collaboration is key,” Mr. Springer said. He also highlighted finding diversified funding sources, using technology to streamline staff efficiency, being open to change, and collecting and applying “best practice” data.

Aileen Wehren, who holds an Executive Staff position at Porter-Starke Services, Inc., and Todd Molfenter, co-Deputy Director of NIATx, also spoke. Porter-Starke is an Indiana community mental health center. NIATx is a research, training, and consulting group on behavioral health and addiction treatment within the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

During Ms. Wehren’s presentation, she asked, “Where are we going to be a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, and how are we going to get there?” She posited that “Behavioral health care is switching to a different business model.”

Ms. Wehren also highlighted concepts that behavioral and substance abuse healthcare providers should consider during the transition to 2014. She emphasized the need to provide immediate access to care, the ability to demonstrate clinical improvements, the importance of keeping good electronic records, and the value of becoming part of one of the new health care exchanges.

Dr. Molfenter followed with a discussion of health care reform readiness. He identified a number of “readiness factors” for behavioral and substance abuse health care providers, such as “accountability for patient care” and “tracking outcomes.”

The overall theme of the symposium was the importance of integrating behavioral health care into the broader healthcare field. The concept and what it means generated some conversation at the meeting. Integration can mean integrating behavioral health care into addiction treatment, a process that Wehren said began several years ago at Porter-Starke. But it also can mean integrating behavioral health and addiction treatment into primary care, which was the focus of the meeting.

The video of the conference appears in three parts. In the preceding Parts 1 and 2, Dr. Molfenter explains how the anticipation of health care reform has driven behavioral health and substance abuse providers toward integration, electronic health records, and billing/reimbursement changes. Then, Ms. Wehren discusses case studies and real-life experiences with integration of behavioral healthcare into mainstream care.

Click here to view the complete symposium.


Douglas Canter is a Washington, DC energy attorney and local freelance writer.