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Pam Hyde: Fundamentals for survival

May 2, 2011
by Nick Zubko, Associate Editor
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“Some people think they can stay the same and everything can change around them," noted Pamela Hyde, JD, while addressing an audience gathered to hear the SAMHSA director speak at her “Thought Leader” session on Monday.

Hyde discussed the myriad changes taking place that are changing the role of behavioral healthcare, but she admitted that she’s worried about how we are going to survive. Hyde asked the audience: “Can we keep up? Can we be relevant? Can we innovate?"

Of course, a significant driver of change stems from declining budgets. With 2012 proposals forecasting a reduction of $4 trillion to $6.5 trillion over the next 10 years, Hyde says it's "not whether there are going to be reductions, but rather how much and where."

In addition to funding, Hyde discussed the growing focus on primary care and the amount of effort going into getting publically funded primary care physicians to be able to deal with substance abuse and mental health issues.

“That’s a very positive thing,” noted Hyde, “but it also means that relationships with primary care providers are not just a ‘good thing to have’ anymore. They are now fundamentally necessary in order for our survival."

Hyde also highlighted a number of challenges that she believes are store for mental healthcare providers, not the least of which include:

  • The fact that one-third of substance abuse providers and 20 percent of behavioral health providers have no experience with third-party billing.
  • Less than 10 percent of BH providers have nationally certified electronic health record systems (EHRs).
  • Less than 10 percent have any form of EHR in place.

As a result of these challenges, Hyde says SAMHSA is working hard to ensure that behavioral healthcare is included is included in all aspects of healthcare reform.

While funding is a continuing challenge, Hyde pointed to SAMHSA’s effort to develop key partnerships (such as with the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and Center for Disease Control), which enable important progress when funds are limited.

“You have to think less about the money that’s there, and focus on what resources are available,” Hyde said. “These partnerships actually open up an entire new world."


Nick Zubko

Associate Editor

Nick Zubko


Nick Zubko is associate editor of Behavioral Healthcare.

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