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Using data to demonstrate performance: It's everybody's role

September 24, 2013
by Dennis Grantham, Editor in Chief
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In fast-changing world, volume plus efficiency is the new standard

In his talk about "The Three As: Accountability, Accessibility, Affordability, at the Behavioral Healthcare Leadership Summit, David Buccifero traced the trajectory by which data is being used to improve behavioral health services and outlined how providers could integrate data in their own operations to keep up.

Buccifero, who served for years as a New York State behavioral health official and now serves as a Senior Adviser at Foothold Technology, told listeners that the push toward more effective use of data started with federal HIPAA legislation and has since accelerated through the 2008-09 ARRA and HITECH stimulus legislation and the Affordable Care Act. 
 
Accountability
With a move away from grants toward managed care organizations (MCOs), Buccifero said that standards of accountability are changing too. "States looked at service volume, expecting providers to serve as many people as possible for the available funds. With MCOs, providers are now expected to be much more efficient in how they serve people," he said.  Simply allocating funds is out, he said.
 
The shifting use of data reflects increasing competitiveness in the business environment. "It used to be that exec director and compliance officer had to do all of the reporting.  But they don't have the visibility to see where specific program level information is needed. Others in the organization have to step up to provide that."
 
Increasingly, he continued, "agencies must tell a story and sell themselves using data. People see data in light of the story you tell. You want to be able to tell a good story with good outcomes data."
 
Accessibility
The key to having the data you need is accessibility. "You've got to make it easy to put the data into a system, he asserted. "That means easy to enter, easy to retrieve." It also means that the data you decide to keep must be meaningful. "It must hone in on the specialties of your organization."
 
Citing his experience as a local school board member, Buccifero emphasized that when presented to others, data must be meaningful, so the people who review it can decide how to react to it.  And, in New York State, data is expected to be electronic:  By 2015, all behavioral health providers are expected to have a certified electronic health record system (EHR).
 
Affordability
Developing a system to capture, store, and retrieve the data you need to strengthen your business is more than an imperative. It's a way of linking people - professionals, staff, consumers, and others - to the objectives of quality care and the goals of your organization.
 
In time, said Buccifero, "the data that you collect creates an organizational memory, a means of linking information together to get knowledge. You've got to get everybody in the organization to create clinical pathways, to see the wisdom of what works and what doesn't, and to understand why."
 

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