Using Automation Technology to Meet Mounting Mental Health Crisis

The increase in behavioral health diagnoses during the pandemic is accelerating care management programs and the need to partner – and exchange data and medical records – with behavioral health providers and community-based resources.

Increasing Access and Care Management for Behavioral Health

A recent poll[i] from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) discovered that the number of adults with symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder during the pandemic increased by 200 percent. Among mental health, priorities are suicide and deaths due to drug or alcohol abuse. The CDC reports that, between 2000-2018, the suicide rate among working-age Americans (ages 16-64 years) rose by 40% without considering isolation and financial stressors caused during the pandemic.

Behavioral Health Access Requires More Community-Based Partnerships and Digital Sharing

While these new partnerships allow for expanded services to patients and members, healthcare providers and payers will require greater access to medical records, as well as digital connections and communication with community-based organizations. These organizations run the gamut in IT maturity – from paper- and spreadsheet-based tools to Microsoft, Google, and Outlook applications or boutique EMRs.

Care Management Partnership

Employing blended automation solutions ensure that outside data sources can be digitally integrated into any care management system quickly, effectively, and without a large investment. 

These data integration solutions can mean the difference between a patient or member receiving timely, accessible care, and being lost in a system of missed calls and faxes.

Blended Automation Provides Timely Solutions to Data Integration Issues

While interfacing with mature EMR platforms can be accomplished via HL7 and FHIR API interfaces, this route can be slow and expensive.

However, blended automation solutions, including robotic process automation, solve timely data interoperability challenges by allowing integration between care management systems and external partners until long-term data integration solutions are widely available from software vendors.

How Would Blending Automation Solutions Work in the Real World for Care Managers?

Certified Care Manager Use Case – Afia’s Story

Blended automation solutions support care managers as they engage patients and members, tackle day-to-day priorities, decrease the risk of mistakes, and reduce manual steps.

What follows is a use case illustration of a care manager and how blended automation solutions help her carry out care management tasks, assisting patients to receive the behavioral health care they need quickly and effectively. 

  • Afia is a certified care manager working for a third-party care management service contracted with behavioral health providers and payers.
  • Afia’s Organization needs to expand partnerships quickly so that her organization can increase access to behavioral health services and those provided by community-based organizations.
  • Afia’s Goals are to enable effective, personalized behavioral health care plans that empower her patients to live their healthiest and happiest lives.
  • Afia’s Problem is that she’s concerned that there won’t be enough time each day to achieve her goal because it will require more time than she has to research community resources online, construct detailed treatment plans, and manage all the data entry and tracking she has to do across different systems.
  • Afia’s Needs include having a way to serve more patients; manage more community partners; maintain data in more EMRs and applications; and manage more communication via email, fax, and phone.

Afia’s organization could use blended automation solutions to help her achieve all of her goals. Her workflow would require two types of blended automation technology – one for clinical systems integration and one for task and communication integration – both outlined below.

Blended Automation for Clinical Systems Integration:  

  • Solutions could include:
    • HL7 and FHIR APIs are employed between platform systems where they’re available.
    • Unattended RPA bots monitor internal and external databases for updates specific to her patients’ conditions, treatment plans, medications, ordered tests/procedures, and referrals. Bots can extract, transform, and load this information into the care management system.
  • Benefits would include: Time and effort saved allow Afia, and her colleagues, to work at the top of her license, enabling her to provide further access to services, create the best treatment plans for her patients, improve patient satisfaction while increasing her employee satisfaction, decreasing employee burnout and turnover.

Blended Automation for Office Applications and Social Media Integration:

  • Solutions could include:
    • Unattended RPA bots monitor external sources and create calendar events and provide alerts to Afia, and her colleagues, via email and text.
      • Microsoft Office/Google Docs: RPA bots monitor and extract relevant patient data throughout the day from sources like spreadsheets stored online (Google Docs) or available through secure connections between Afia’s organization and external partners (Microsoft Office/Teams). 
      • Social Media: RPA bots monitor and scrape information from sources like Facebook and Twitter about scheduled and same-day events and what services and resources will be available for patients
  • Benefits would include: Patients have a greater chance of receiving timely access to needed services. Afia, and her colleagues, will have more time to operate at the top of their licenses, and focus on activities that yield greater value.

Where Could Blended Automation Improve Access and Enhance Care?

As healthcare providers and payer organizations expand care management partnerships to include a broader range of behavioral health services and community-based organizations, the number of applications and systems — from platform EMRs to administrative software to social media tools — will also expand.

Automation provides a timely solution to waiting for platform vendors of expensive in-house development projects. Blended automation solutions, including robotic process automation, enable healthcare organizations and teams to implement cost-effective integration solutions quickly.

Let’s Explore Blending Automation Solutions to Streamline Your Care Management Workflow

SDLC Partners has the RPA experience and expertise to provide integration solutions that tie care management ecosystem together, streamline care management tasks, and improve patient and employee satisfaction.

Mental Health Care Was Severely Inequitable, Then Came the Coronavirus Crisis. By Azza Altiraifi and Nicole Rapfogel September 10, 2020. Center for American Progress.

  • Christopher Shipton
    Senior Consultant/CMP, Healthcare Solutions
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  • Banu Prakash Nallani
    Associate — BI & Analytics, Business Consulting
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