For more than four decades, Outreach has provided a wide range of treatment and support for its New York communities. Specializing in substance use and addiction services, the organization helps individuals of all ages build healthier lives and reach their full potential through evidence-based treatments and training programs. Similar to nearly all care facilities throughout the country, Outreach and its staff have felt steep impacts from the pandemic–both on the organization and the providers.
Outreach has eight outpatient sites and four residential sites, with nearly 200 clinicians serving between the two modalities. In order to continue providing quality care to all consumers, the organization knew it needed to prioritize the health and wellbeing of its entire staff. It can be easy to forget that healthcare providers are people too, and they are not immune to the negative emotional and physical impacts of COVID-19.
In order to ensure clinicians are supported and heard as the pandemic continues to unfold, Outreach clinical directors installed frequent meetings with staff to check in on their emotional and physical wellbeing, in addition to other operational discussions. Clinicians need support too, and Outreach has worked to make sure their staff receives a proper and professional response to any personal trauma during this time.
“We’re all kind of in trauma response right now, dealing with situational depression, experiencing loss and grief and our own trauma,” Kelsey Silver, LMFT, Outreach Director of Quality and Information said. “All of our directors are previous clinicians, so speaking with their clinicians about this stuff comes pretty naturally.”
Unfortunately, emotional strain and the risk of catching COVID is not the only stressor clinicians are undergoing amid the pandemic. There are also administrative burdens to clinical workflows, which can lead to frustration and burnout if not properly addressed. Debbie Pantin, MSW, MS and President/CEO of Outreach speaks highly of the willingness of clinicians to shift and embrace technology in such a difficult time.
“They met the opportunity of telepractice, clinical and supervisory management by data with a wealth of passion to continue providing exceptional care to our patients,” Pantin said. “As much as Outreach continues to build and execute on our provision of solid clinical skill sets, the team has embraced the key role that technology plays in the continued achievement of our mission.”
To tackle operational stressors in the wake of COVID, Outreach first adjusted some of their technology settings - specifically Netsmart KPI Dashboards. This healthcare analytics tool allows organizations such as Outreach to track key performance indicators (KPIs) for financial, clinical and operational metrics. The dashboard has customizable forms users can create to drill down specific data based on needs.
Outreach leveraged KPI Dashboards before COVID hit and is now using the data tool in new ways to address new demands. The pandemic has brought an increased need for data, such as which clients are agreeing to telehealth services. Outreach was able to create several more forms within KPI Dashboards to better track these kinds of metrics. Silver also noted there have been more clicks amid COVID, meaning that staff has to spend more time entering and analyzing more data and documentation. While essential, more data often brings a bleak picture for clinicians to process, especially if the analytics aren’t demonstrated appropriately.
“How do you present data in a way that doesn’t dishearten your clinical staff?” Silver said. “If data is used poorly or not understood correctly, it will decrease clinical motivation.”
This notion rings true both before and during the pandemic. It is essential data is used and displayed in a way that supports clinicians, therefore Outreach works to ensure all data shown in KPI goes back to quality of care for their clients. Especially in the face of COVID, the organization wants to make sure staff remains motivated and able to use data for good without getting tied down by too many extra clicks.
“Our clinicians have a bleeding heart for their clients,” Silver said. “They want to do whatever they can to help these individuals, and so helping clinicians feel empowered and driven through both our support and technology is key.”
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