Mark Lewinsohn is vice president of clinical services at LifeWorks NW, a behavioral health and addiction treatment nonprofit with 15 locations in and around Portland, OR. The organization recently implemented population health management technology from Enli Health Intelligence to better enable its participation in the federal Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics demonstration project.
How has LifeWorks NW used healthcare technology in the past to serve its patients? How have you seen health IT improve access to services and treatment outcomes?
LifeWorks NW was an early adopter of the EHR. Implementing electronic records allowed us to build the infrastructure to monitor and track client and service data, and to then support a data decision-making system. Thus, we already had the foundation in place to move forward with the population health solution to address issues that impact a consumer’s outcome (no show, engagement, access to treatment, etc.)
Health IT enables us to use data to determine the root causes of barriers to accessing care, which is critical to improving outcomes. For instance, with such insight we may discover we are not offering enough new patient times or scheduling at times/days that are not desirable. In addition, we can readily identify strategies to engage clients who may be missing appointments or who are disconnected from our services.
What prompted you to begin looking at population health management solutions?
LifeWorks NW has been a pioneer in integrating mental health and primary care. We have had mental health staff embedded in primary care clinics for more than a decade. That integrated care model has proven successful, so now we are focusing on reverse engineering integration: Through a better understanding of an individual’s overall physical health, we will have improved insight into how it may be impacted by their behavioral health condition or vice versa. We know that people with serious mental illness do not access preventative care and have a shorter lifespan than those without. We want to impact
that statistic. Plus, our involvement in the national demonstration project for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics has provided additional resources and requirements for increasing our tracking of health metrics and improving coordination of care with primary care providers.
What impact will Enli’s technology have on your participation in the CCBHC demonstration project?
We hope to develop specific protocols that look at the whole health of the individual rather than the siloed approach historically taken in healthcare. Enli will allow LifeWorks NW to efficiently track clients who are receiving CCBHC services and identify those with high health risks due to their chronic medical condition(s). In line with the CCBHC model, we can then more readily identify how their co-morbid condition impacts both physical and mental wellbeing. In addition, through data automation, staff will be able to devote more time to client support because they no longer have to manually track information or look through charts to figure out which clients need outreach/support.
What advice do you have for other behavioral health organizations looking to implement population health management technology?
Population health is new to behavioral health providers. We had a good foundation through our EHR system, and were able to build on that as we moved to implement technology for population health management. To ensure that effort is successful, we believe it is critical to find a partner, like Enli, that has a solid foundation, but is nimble and willing to blaze a new trail and work together to learn what will result for the best outcomes and achieved objectives.
Is LifeWorks NW looking at other types of health IT? What’s on your wish list?
In sum, yes! We believe that there is so much opportunity to make a positive impact on client outcomes and improve community health. We are currently exploring a host of solutions that will improve care coordination between behavioral health and other healthcare and non-healthcare entities. We really see the value of – and great need for – HIEs that will be the pipeline for mobilization of information across our region. That kind of technology will greatly enhance our ability to support the people we serve – and the larger community – with more effective care and treatment.