Embrace COVID-19 Effects on the Behavioral Health Industry – Part 2

By June 11, 2020

As stay-at-home orders continue to lift and states begin to emerge from quarantine, we are starting to see how we as an industry will return to ‘business as normal’. But will business ever return to normal as we once knew it? What long term effects do we anticipate within providing Behavioral Health & I/DD services? Last week, we explored the effects of COVID-19 on Staff Engagement. This week, we are continuing the conversation with the other main area of industry impact: Client Engagement. Our desire for this two-part blog is to layout a renewed perspective for both client and staff engagement, as well as provide one efficiency tool to give you back one day a week to create WOW moments for others within each.

Client Engagement

Client engagement has been at the core of conversations, industry associations, blog content, webinars, conference panels, and continuing education courses long before COVID-19. As providers, you are and have been on a continual pursuit to increase client engagement. So, what has changed? How to effectively engage clients in our new cultural context will be vital to your agency’s future success.

Renewed Perspective on Client Engagement

Put plainly, the abrupt transition to telehealth forced agencies to provide these types of services quickly.  As we approach the time where we can again choose to conduct telehealth or in-person services, the core question to drive client engagement is: what environment will create the highest level of engagement from and for my client? For some, this means continuing telehealth services in order to minimize transportation, create more capacity within staff member’s schedules, improve the speed of client access to quality care, while also meeting the client in the best possible environment for successful outcomes. For others, this means reintroducing in-person sessions as soon as it is safe, in order to ensure the client is engaging with their treatment plan (ultimately, that the client trusts the setting of receiving services).  The frenzied transition to telehealth services robbed the industry of an opportunity to learn how to effectively engage clients through this medium and develop telehealth best practices. It is an important time to host collaborative meetings and staff training sessions to create best practices for telehealth engagement and communication specific to your client base. With this, we recommend conducting a client analysis to ensure you are providing services in the best possible setting for each client. Here are a few additional considerations:

  • As HIPAA compliant regulations will eventually be reinforced, what is your agency’s plan for continuing to provide telehealth services?
  • Will your agency make available same-day virtual appointments, as the ‘on-demand’ expectation increases from the individuals you serve?
  • What documentation and instructions do you provide to your clients to assist in virtual session setup, to ensure sessions are 100% devoted to the client’s treatment plan and goals as opposed to technology troubleshooting?
  • Is it possible for your agency to integrate the benefits of both telehealth and in-person settings to ensure maximum accessibility for the population you serve?
  • What other types of technology and tools will you need to support your services and, most importantly, stay engaged with clients?

One Day Back through Client Engagement

COVID-19 has certainly revealed the necessity of tools and leveraging technology to help you as clinicians engage more effectively with clients – particularly the need for a tool to safely open communication lines in the time between sessions. Messaging through CT|One is a HIPAA compliant way to communicate and ensure clients engage with their plan of care. This, or another messaging tool, will be of utmost importance to engage your clients in the days ahead.

Again, as your agency continues the pursuit of maximizing the effects of COVID-19 in the context of our new normal, we urge you to reinvigorate and reinvest in your resources surrounding Staff Engagement & Client Engagement – knowing your team and the clients your team serves, have been, are currently, and always will be, at the crux of your agency’s future success.