Why Most Private Provider Behavioral Health Organizations (PPBHO) Fail 1: Don’t Hire Right!

Over the next few weeks I will present a series entitled, Why Most Private Provider Behavioral Health Organizations (PPBHO) Fail. Although this series is dedicated as a resource for PPBHO to promote success in a changing and challenging industry, many of the principles can be applied to any business, organization or individual. I encourage you to assess your organization honestly, and complete the action items after each topic. So let’s get started with the first reason PPBHO fail. They don’t hire right.

There are two main reasons that contribute to the “don’t hire right” concept that will ultimately lead to failure. Many PPBHO start out by hiring family and friends who may not possess the needed skill set for the industry. This is a practice that I have witnessed in several states. Many are often so excited to have a business and their way of “giving back” is by hiring family and friends who are often times unskilled and unfamiliar with the requirements of the industry.

The second and most prevalent issue is desperation hiring. PPBHO will often hire people who are not a good fit for the organization from the beginning. The interview process is flawed, and if references occur they are not thorough. Candidates are not asked behavior based questions during an interview, their responses are not evaluated effectively and they often confuse years in the industry or having a professional license with being a “good match” instead of comparing the experience and skill level with the demands of the current competence level that is required. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a client say, “This person will be a great fit” and then several weeks to months later I’m asked, “How can I get this person out of here as soon as possible.” PPBHO spend a lot of time, money and effort with desperation hiring. State mandates, and the demands of the clinic usually drive this activity however, consumer care suffers if an agency is always trying to fill a vacancy with the right person. PPBHO can increase their hiring effectiveness by following these steps and developing a plan of action.

1. Identify your prime candidate. What traits, skills, abilities, and temperament must they have to be considered for the position? You cannot stop at the license or the certification just because you need it. If you do, you have now gone back to desperation hiring mode. Make a list of what that candidate will look like and how they will fit into your organization.

2. Develop interview questions around what your needs are and ask the candidate to give you examples. Ask them to tell you about their successes and how they have increased audit scores, consumer retention and consumer census. I’ve conducted many interviews for clients and I am amazed at how candidates evade questions during interviews. This is your first red flag!

3. References are critical to the hiring process. It is imperative to have a solid reference process in place. Regardless of the position, in order to make sure that the candidate is the right fit for your organization you must go below the surface and dig deep on references. Reference questions should be just as detailed as the interview questions to ensure you are about to make the right decision and most importantly, make sure you are speaking to someone who can provide honest feedback about the candidates present or past performance. Keep in mind that references are provided by the candidate so it’s perfectly fine during our “digging expedition” to ask the provided reference for another reference and when you speak with that person ask them as well. This will help you to determine if you are about to make the right choice. Go below the surface and you will always find confirmation.

4. Finally, think outside of the box! John Treace, a contributing editor for Inc. Magazine states, it’s fine to mix it up during the interview because candidates will walk into the office prepared to answer your questions. However, in order to separate the winners from the losers you must be creative. Treace suggests, if the position requires evening work, hold the interview late on Friday evening.

It is perfectly fine to have the candidate conduct a group, teach a class, conduct a meeting or assessment, and even write something that shows their knowledge of the industry. Make the interview process as creative and interactive as you want the selected candidate to be when hired.

Remember it cost more money to rehire and train than it does to retain. Invest the time on the front end; it should minimize the headaches on the back-end. ACTION ITEMS: Assess your current strategy. Develop a corrective action plan, avoid desperation hiring!

3 Things to Look Out For In a Mental Health Therapist

A good mental health therapist seeks to improve the state of mind of individuals and help them overcome things that bar them from learning and growing. People, who are psychological stable, are well emotionally and behaviorally. They are said to be mentally healthy. This means that a mental health therapist would be interested in solving problems related to emotional well-being, behavioral health and psychological stability in order to improve the stability of the state of mind. In order to select a good mental health therapist, one should consider the following things:

Existence of license: Anyone considering hiring a mental health therapist must ensure that they are licensed in the areas which they practice. In other words, therapists must have an authorization certificate, because it proves their professionalism and qualifications. It is important to consider that state departments do not offer these certificates and licenses until they are satisfied of the qualifications of the therapist. To say less, a good mental health therapist must be a professional counselor or a psychological therapist. At the beginning of therapy the practitioner must identify and establish treatment goals in the treatment program, in addition to having a treatment program.

Therapists should ensure that they achieve treatment goals according to the goals set in the treatment program. In addition, for every end of treatment phase, there should be a way of assessing whether the treatment goals are achieved. Thus, goals must be clear and attainable. Assisting the clients: The work of the therapist should be assisting clients express what problem they have and not criticize the patient. Therapist must view the problem in different ways. They should give victims “homework assignments” between treatment sessions. They must suggest new ways of solving problems and directing how their patients should interact with other people. Use excellent skills: Therapists must identify when it is necessary to challenge patients and push into the patients’ solutions. On their side, patients must see the necessity of being pushed to adopt solutions.

The therapist must advocate honesty among patients, and encourage them to open up and express their needs, worries, desires and expectations about treatments. It is important that they must lead patients to show them why they must attend appointments in time and observe the schedules. He should adverse on the necessary foods and diets, what to eat and what to avoid. He is also responsible for advising or not advising the patient about consuming alcohol, illegal substances and unauthorized chemicals.

He/she should give additional information: Therapists must be aware of and plan for emergency occurrences. In this case, it is important to come up with necessary emergency intervention strategies to handle those possible/potential emergencies when they occur. They must identify when medicine intake is advised or when patients must stop taking medicines and see psychiatrists or do both. Patients must be taught how they can manage mental disturbances and stress.

A good mental health therapist should also assure the patient security for information they collect from him/her. The information must not be taken by illegal/unauthorized hands. This includes close family members who may be interested in seeing or accessing patient information without written permission. Accessing of information is accepted for people/family members when patients are under 18 years and dependent. Guardians can also access the information in case the patients are underage. A person may expose patient’s personal information about their health status and progress in mental health following legal guidelines.

Social Media Is Helping Behavioral Health Clients and Professionals E-Tool

With mental health and substance abuse providers constantly seeking out the latest in treatment information and with their clients becoming much more involved in their own treatment, Social Media is becoming the tool of choice for researching information on specific behavioral health topics.

With the proper Social Media Use Policies in place, behavioral care treatment providers can easily “connect” with client populations by authoring blogs that satisfy their informational curiosities and needs and that are written in a layman language that they can easily understand and identify with. This is only the front end of the benefit.

A successfully authored blog post also encourages it readers to share comments and to subscribe to the blog by RSS feed or even to “follow” the author on Twitter. What a great way to generate interest in those who may be curious about what a particular “expert” blogger has to share with and offer the greater client population. Often this interest results in the formation of client – treatment provider professional relationship.

In addition, Social Media affords e-clients (those who use the Web to aid in their own treatment) and Social Media savvy behavioral care professionals to help spread useful information around any network that might therapeutically benefit from it. This therapeutic online synergy can only be considered a “miracle” of Social Media. It is living proof that Web technology has further evolved to innovate more quick and efficient ways to help the mentally ill and substance abusers in more ways than ever before. Millions of people are benefiting from having enlightening information available at their fingertips at any hour of the day or evening.

Consider some of the positive ways Social Media is helping the behavioral health community forge ahead on its helping mission.

• Advocates and e-clients are now easily able to identify their legislators; review proposed legislation, online; and share their personal and advocated views directly with their elected representatives as well as with the community-at-large. As a result of the growth of Social Media, countless federal and state bills that can undoubtedly affect the lives and careers of behavioral health consumers and their treatment professionals have been suggested, supported or dumped thanks to the comprehensive dialogs conducted over the Web during their initial considerations.
• Behavioral health practitioners and field consultants are regularly sharing their thoughts and best practices on Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, Blogs and on weekly podcasts, just to name a few outlets. What better way to stay on top of advancements and who is responsible for helping them take place?
• At their Websites, behavioral health organizations of all kinds include their recommended links for all sorts of informative articles, conference notifications, job openings and RFPs. They also often share their recommendations and reviews with an increasingly interested audience on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon and Twitter.
No longer does one have to wait for and rummage through a whole litany of monthly and quarterly professional journals and newsletters to get information that is readily available on the Web.

The “word” surrounding Social Media within the professional circles of the behavioral health treatment community has not all been positive, thus far. In fact, in many health care circles including the medical profession, there is some ambivalence about what is being called the “e-movement.” The e-movement accounts for the growing momentum of Social Media, which has made it often the very first place many people go to locate a diagnosis and to find out what treatment options, are available to them. They used to just call a Dr. or a counselor and make an appointment to come in for a consultation. Not so much, anymore.

Professionals have become very used to being considered “experts” are not all comfortable with their patients or clients becoming anything more than the passive consumers they have always considered them to be.

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital physician Alan Greene, MD, is particularly social-media-savvy (he has a Twitter feed, Facebook page and very interactive website) – and he shares his thoughts in the article:

“A couple of generations ago, the house call was the common way physicians would find out about the real lives of people and make an impact right in the middle of their lives, and today it’s social media,” says Dr. Greene.

This is a new and harsh reality for some. The e-movement certainly levels the playing field for everyone – to a very large degree – and results in different types and perhaps much stronger (financially) health care and behavioral care partnerships that can endanger the livelihoods of both the highly competent and the unquestionable subpar individual practitioner, alike. The overall value of Social Media to e-clients and those behavioral care professionals using it as a valuable tool for better health, certainly swamp this argument. Social Media has been a boon to e-clients and practitioners in behavioral health care and there are no signs of its popularity and value waning anytime soon.

Peculiarities of Behavioral Health Jobs

Working with individuals in behavioral health jobs has its advantages and disadvantages. Many different job opportunities exist in this area, but there are a wide range of disorders, illnesses, and situations which those employed in the health sector must deal with on a regular basis. Perhaps the best thing that anyone who’s employed in this field can do for themselves is take a step back, realize that you’re truly helping those who need assistance, and be prepared for anything that comes.

Dealing with Behaviors:
One of the peculiarities of jobs in behavioral health is working with and dealing with a variety of behaviors. For example, working with young children means that you may be exposed to autism spectrum disorders, behavioral conduct disorders, and a wide range of other issues common to youth. Exposure to these types of problems inevitably leads to experiencing anger outbursts and communication problems just to name a couple issues.

Adult Disorders and Illnesses:
Aside from the issues found in young children and even adolescents, a major experience is dealing with peculiarities in behavioral health jobs working with adults. Adults can experience many different types of mental disorders and illnesses, such as depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior or one of the many personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder. Depression and anxiety may lead to abnormal suicidal tendency behaviors which must be dealt with appropriately and personality disorders may lead you to confront a vast array of other symptoms from adults in your jobs in behavioral health, such as major mood swings and poor impulse control.

Another peculiarity that you may experience when working with children or adults, and especially on trauma units or in mental health treatment facilities, is the exacerbation of symptoms and behavioral problems during the full moon cycle. Though frequently dismissed as superstition, individuals in behavioral health jobs do, in fact, report that individuals with mental health and behavioral disorders do act worse around the time of a full moon.

Training Programs:
Fortunately, many training programs exist to help individuals overcome abnormal behaviors. In addition, these types of training programs enable you to work more effectively in behavioral health jobs as you have been taught proven techniques and methods for dealing with behavioral problems. For example, autism spectrum disorder specialists learn to work with kids on communication problems, conduct disorders, and relating to friends and family members.

Several mental health training programs also teach you about the different range of behaviors you’ll experience while working in behavioral careers as well as how to deal with them. For example, an associate’s degree in mental health technology and or other crisis management certificate enables you to resolve emergency situations with individuals experiencing severe depression and suicidal tendencies or thoughts. You’ll learn stress management techniques and how to diffuse an emergency situation among other things.

As you can see, there are many peculiarities and situations that you may have to deal with when working in behavioral health positions. However, many people experience great internal satisfaction by helping to resolve these types of problems and aiding those who need behavioral training or extra care. Attending a training program to further your education in one of these fields, though, gives you extra knowledge and the right skills needed to work successfully in behavioral health careers.

How the Obamacare Individual Mandate Affects Health Insurance for Self Employed Americans

By 2014, millions of Americans will be subject to a fine if they don’t have adequate health insurance. Self employed individuals are likely to be one of the groups most affected by the Obamacare individual mandate that becomes law on January 1st of next year.

Roughly one-third of the national labor force is self-employed. That adds up to 42 million Americans. In many cases, they are responsible for 100% of the cost of covering themselves and their families. For these freelancers and independent contractors, healthcare costs already significantly impact monthly budgets. However, come 2014, many will learn that they face penalties because their current coverage fails to meet new minimum benefit standards laid out in the Affordable Care Act.

According to HealthCare.gov, there are a list of 10 essential benefits that must be included in coverage for an individual to meet the minimum standards for health insurance. Self employed individuals and millions of other Americans will need to be covered for:

– Prescription drugs
– Wellness services, chronic disease management, and preventative care
– Outpatient care
– Hospitalization
– Emergency services
– Laboratory services
– Rehabilitative devices and services
– Maternity and newborn care
– Pediatric services
– Mental health and substance abuse services, including behavioral health treatment

Why is the Affordable Care Act placing such a high burden on people who already may be struggling with healthcare costs? The intent of the Obamacare individual mandate is to protect those who rely on high deductible plans that offer minimum benefits at low monthly premiums. These plans often fail to help people facing major health events, leading to higher incidents of bankruptcies and unpaid hospital bills. Both of these outcomes jack up the costs of care for us all.

In order to offset the costs of obtaining better coverage, the government is offering help from the newly formed healthcare marketplaces and exchanges soon to be available in many states. Unfortunately, millions of people will fall through the cracks of this system. Experts have estimated that two-thirds of the two million residents of California responsible for buying their own insurance will not get help from tax subsidies or qualify to participate in the exchanges.

If you make more than four times the Federal Poverty Level, roughly 46,000, you would be wise to start shopping now for affordable health care. Self employed individuals, or any other Americans responsible for finding their own coverage, are getting closer and closer to the deadline to decide.

Your options are clear. If your current plan doesn’t meet the minimum criteria, you’re going to need to find an upgrade or else face penalties. If you currently have no coverage and would like to avoid the fine, make sure that any new health insurance plan you sign up for has all of the benefits on the mandatory list. If you opt to go without insurance, you should know that the penalty increases every year.

Because of the cracks in the system, some will choose to pay the fine rather than cope with the high costs of health care. Self employed people have an especially hard choice to make because their decision could affect them personally and professionally.