Behavioral healthcare providers must reinvent themselves or risk becoming obsolete. Kicking off the National Council for Behavioral Health 2015 conference in Orlando, Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO, shared her outlook on what it will take to position the industry for the future.
“Reinvention is about looking at things differently,” Rosenberg said to an audience of more than 3,000. “We need to be clear-eyed about our assessment of the environment and the opportunities we have for reinvention.”
As an example of the dangers resulting when an organization fails to evolve with the times, she noted the 2012 bankruptcy of Kodak—a company that was once derived 90 percent of its sales from photographic film but failed to reinvent itself when digital photography took hold. Contrast that with Kodak’s rival, Fuji, she said. Fuji expanded its products into everything from high-resolution endoscopes to facial cosmetics. Now Fuji is thriving while Kodak is still struggles.
Rosenberg highlighted the National Council’s merger with the State Associations of Addiction Services and said a new specialized committee will keep addiction “front and center.” National Council has also competed a team restructuring to better reflect the inclusion of the addiction-treatment discipline.
In fact, Rosenberg said she is grateful that during this election year for National Council board members, delegates are “fiercely fighting it out.” The jockeying is a sure sign that behavioral health professionals are committed to working together as a council to create healthy, safe communities.
One of National Council’s signature projects is mental health first aid training. So far more than 400,000 people have been trained, including First Lady Michelle Obama, who, Rosenberg said, found the training to be useful and now “is a believer.” The goal is to train 3 million Americans by 2020.
“When someone is struggling, hope should be as close as the nearest citizen,” Rosenberg said.
With all the progress in behavioral health, Rosenberg noted that nothing is changing the healthcare landscape more than the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Nine-point-three million more people have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and the rates of uninsured have dropped from 20 percent to 11.8 percent and continue to go down,” she said. “But ACA is not only about people with insurance, but it’s about models of care. Many of you are getting involved in those models and are taking steps in your communities.”
Reinvention will also include embracing technology, such as using smartphones to text clients reminders for their appointments. By a show of hands, about 10 percent of those in attendance at the session indicated they use text reminders, but Rosenberg said the younger generations increasingly expect such engagement from providers.
Virtual environments also present opportunities. She noted how treatment centers are using three-dimensional virtual experiences with avatars, for example, to help individuals with continuing care after residential treatment.
“We have a problem in that we know payment follows innovation—not before,” she said. “And that makes technology investment difficult. It’s difficult to do the things that are demanded of us. Fearless people start the conversation even if those conversations are uncomfortable.”