Wednesday, April 17 | EHR Solutions and Operations, Partnerships and Collaboration, Human Services

The IDD Summit Part 2: Partnership and Innovation

By Tricia Zerger, Senior Director, Human Services

As we gear up for the second annual IDD Summit, I want to touch on some key points from our first-ever Summit in 2023. With IDD and particularly autism services growing at a fast pace, we felt it was important to give direct support professionals (DSPs) an insight into advancing technologies, expert thought leadership, legislative developments and key strategies for sustainability and growth.


Our agenda consisted of a state-of-the-industry overview, the latest federal and state legislative activity, a provider panel discussion and demonstrations of two technology solutions to help with the number one challenge in IDD care: recruiting and retaining DSPs. Joining me was an all-star lineup of industry experts including:


·      Virginia Gabby, Executive Director for IDD Program Development at Merakey

·      Erin McCloskey, CIO and Co-Leader of Operations at Youth Consultation Service

·      Jamie Pagliaro, Executive Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at RethinkFirst

·      Donna Wilson, Senior Director for State Partnership and Innovation at ANCOR

·      Ken Winston, Director of IDD Service at Integral Care

·      Jen Gray, Director of Solution Consulting at Netsmart and Former IDD Clinician

·      Alan Ortego, Vice President of Engineering for Bells at Netsmart

·      David Strocchia, Senior Vice President for Human Services at Netsmart


In this blog series, I’ll detail what each of these experts had to share, and hope you’ll join us for our 2024 IDD Summit.


In case you missed Part 1: Strategic Planning and Legislative Updates, read it here.


Part 2: Partnership and Innovation


Advanced Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)


The day wrapped up with a demonstration of today’s technology leveraging advanced automation and AI.  This included the BellsAI documentation assistant and behavior tracking and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) integrated with Netsmart EHRs or used as a standalone EHR agnostic platform.  I had the opportunity to kick off this portion of the day, and it reminded me how excited I am to be in the technology field, building on my past career as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Community Behavioral Health. 


BellsAI is an EHR-agnostic solution––meaning you can take advantage of the technology whether you have a Netsmart EHR or not. Bells makes progress note writing faster, cleaner and very streamlined. DSPs spend about 40 percent of their week, or two days, writing documentation. As a former clinician, I have yet to meet anyone who said they went into this profession to write notes. Not only does that take away from time with the individuals you serve, it leads to burnout. And when turnover is an issue, that’s a huge problem.


Using AI, providers spend less time on documentation and more time providing care. The solution focuses on assisted capture, as well as improving data accuracy. It also makes language recommendations in the moment. So, once a note is written, it should be pretty much complete. 


It’s easy to see why this technology is extremely popular with DSPs. There’s even a mobile app for home and community visits, which displays a schedule at the top and allows for notetaking on site.


The recent partnership between RethinkFirst and Netsmart brings digitized Behavior Tracking and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) workflows. DSPs can access behavior tracking and ABA data with collection and analysis directly from a single EHR platform––which is another way to create efficiencies and make their jobs easier. This EHR agnostic solution is filled with features beyond behavior tracking and ABA workflows and will help train, develop and assist your DSPs, keeping them invested and satisfied with their jobs.


For example, the customizable curriculum: 1,500 treatment goals with video-based trainings embedded. DSPs can use these resources to create a personalized intervention plan for each individual they serve. There are also gold-standard assessments, which looks at developmental milestones and is recognized by, most insurance companies and Medicaid.  Once the assessment is completed, the system can recommend a set of goals and objectives to work on with the individual.  As another bonus, Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) have access to the 40-hour training that meets the requirement for the RBT certification program. Smart scheduling significantly reduces administrative workload by automating tasks such as appointment reminders and real-time scheduling updates. The real-time availability matching improves scheduling accuracy. It ensures that your staff's availability aligns perfectly with your individuals' needs, eliminating scheduling conflicts and enhancing the overall individual experience. And for parents and caregivers engagement, there are on-demand video trainings, with ways to track their child's progress and interact with the care team.


We’ve talked a lot about the importance of data.  Users can leverage data collection and analytics tools to help evaluate progress and optimize outcomes for individuals. Metrics are collected systematically based on the results of interventions––and since the solution is mobile-friendly, all insights are available on desktop or mobile app, online or offline. 


What’s Next?


Our industry experts can’t wait for you to join us at the next IDD Summit.  Until then, here are a few recommended next steps:


·      Create an automation roadmap for your organization

·      Stay up to date on industry trends

·      Become a member of ANCOR by visiting their website, or sign up for ANCOR notifications and alerts

·      Expand your competitive strategy for employee recruitment, faster onboarding and retention

·      Reach out to Netsmart if you’re interested in any of the technology discussed here


Our first IDD Summit was a resounding success. We look forward to your participation in future education and advocacy for the IDD community.

Meet the Author

Tricia Zerger Blog Photo
Tricia Zerger · Senior Director, Human Services

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