Has Your Response to Changing Demand in Behavioral Health Services Cost You Money?

By August 7, 2020

As we have progressed through this blog series, you may have begun to identify the necessity of data to drive innovative decisions. Or maybe you only see data as useful in a certain category of your agency’s business. Up to this point, we have looked at the impact of data on Staff Productivity and No-Show Rates decisions. Today, we dive into supply and demand data regarding services your agency is providing and the staff providing those services. The question, has your response to demand in services during COVID-19 cost you money, isn’t as much about the potential to lose money as it is about making blind decisions during a rapidly changing environment. An environment that likely won’t slow down once the spread of COVID-19 does.

Data to Assess the Supply & Demand of Services

Most agencies have experienced a change in demand for Behavioral Health services since the onset of COVID-19. Whether demand has increased due to the mental health challenges many have faced during this time, or demand has decreased due to lack of technological access to sessions – each agency has inevitably responded to these changes. This has resulted in either supplying (or hiring) additional staff for an increased demand in services or furloughing/laying off staff for a decreased demand in services. This is not a one-time decision, but instead, a fluid process. So, what data points should you evaluate when making decisions about the current demand of services and how to efficiently supply that demand through staffing?

Assess Hiring Decisions & Service Type Demand

Whether you need to hire more staff, need to downsize staff, can afford to hire more staff, or cannot afford to hire more staff – each decision, and the implications of it – should be driven by data. For instance, if there is a need to hire more staff but the agency cannot afford to hire more staff, it will be important to regularly monitor staff productivity and burnout metrics to avoid employee turnover.  If instead you need to hire more staff and can afford to hire more staff, you will want to use comparative analysis to determine which services have increased (number of referrals, claims, notes, etc.) and the best possible staff member (and associated salary) to hire for that service type. Instead of shifting the schedule of an under-utilized psychologist staff member (supply) to provide case management services (high demand), it is in your best interest to instead hire additional case managers. This will help to ensure what you are paying staff, aligns with the cost to provide a specific type of service.

Assess Staff Capacity & Service Type Demand

Let’s assume your agency hired additional staff over the past 3 months due to increased demand in services. But now demand has tapered, as shown through evaluating referral data, notes submitted, number of claims, and no-show rates. How can observing this trend, simultaneously help you to proactively analyze staff engagement? If staff perceive the decrease in demand, could this increase anxiety about the future security of their position? With this, it’s essential to know the best data to measure staff engagement at your agency. One idea we have recently implemented to monitor employee engagement at Remarkable Health, is to send a quarterly employee NPS survey!

Lastly, what data thresholds has your leadership team established to determine when the demand for a specific service type has dropped too low and is now costing your agency money? If this hasn’t yet been established, structuring these data thresholds to alert your team of when to consider cutting a service, will be imperative.

Data Tools & Resources

As we wrap up this three-part blog series on data, we want to ensure you have ongoing tools and resources to leverage data for innovative decisions. Join our customer success team for a virtual cup of coffee as we continue our collaborative webinar series discussing new industry trends! In case you missed it, click the link below to watch Episode 1 – Explore 3 Big Questions Around Staff Productivity & Utilization Data During A Crisis… and be sure to stay tuned for future episodes!

 

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