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Innovation Eases Collaboration: Behavioral Health Dashboard helps Hospitals Work Together in Real Time

By Kelly Craig, Chief Strategy & Information Officer, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers

Kelly Craig, Chief Strategy & Information Officer, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers

For 15 years, the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers has focused on finding ways to bend the cost curve and improve care for individuals with complex health and social needs. In 2018, we are rolling out a new Behavioral Health Dashboard that will allow five competing health systems to share data and look at trends in behavioral health over time and across systems.

"Findings from the data compiled in the Dashboard may identify new concerns or light the way toward even more improvement in care for individuals with behavioral health diagnoses"

The South Jersey Behavioral Health Innovation Collaborative is a partnership between the five health systems and the Camden Coalition. We have learned from experience that when healthcare providers work together, they’re more efficient and more effective—a win-win for patients.

The Camden Coalition is a New Jersey non-profit healthcare innovator known for pioneering the concept and practice of healthcare hotspotting. Hotspotting is an idea borrowed from law enforcement, where a small number of individuals who are returning to hospitals at high rates are identified on a map and targeted with resources. We have continued to pursue new ways of looking at information and bringing stakeholders together around data sharing with the goal of providing better care at lower cost to some of the most vulnerable patients.

Collaboration to Tackle New Challenges in Behavioral Health

Along with the rise of the opioid epidemic, awareness of behavioral health—not only as a major component of whole-person care, but also as a factor in physical health—has soared, and for good reason. Our data show an approximate 40 percent jump in the number of visits to emergency departments with primary behavioral health diagnoses from 2010 to 2016. Other datasets are revealing similar trends throughout the Garden State.

Sharing data is not a new phenomenon in South Jersey. Our Health Information Exchange has provided local and regional healthcare providers secure, real-time access to shared medical information since 2010. It also provides our data team with numbers to crunch. They began to notice that some of the toughest-to-treat patients were turning up at emergency departments or being hospitalized primarily for behavioral health issues—mental health or substance use disorders. When we approached the hospitals in our area, we learned they were already talking about the need for new thinking in behavioral health.

The Camden Coalition’s role as a facilitator in the South Jersey Behavioral Health Innovation Collaborative has entailed maintaining a data-sharing infrastructure and analyzing cross-systems claims data along with basic demographics and health information to get a clearer picture of the behavioral health population and make recommendations.

Through working together, the five health systems—Cooper University Health Care, Inspira Health Network, Jefferson Health New Jersey (formerly Kennedy Health System), Lourdes Health System, and Virtua Health System— have increased capacity and improved competencies to deliver care. The result has meant remarkable strides toward better behavioral healthcare since the Collaborative’s inception in 2014.

Population Health Trends—In Real Time

Last year, the Camden Coalition put together a prototype Behavioral Health Dashboard to monitor trends in behavioral health utilization at the hospitals over time along six scorecards. Then, we conducted geospatial analyses using the cross-systems data to better understand the distribution of behavioral health patients throughout the region. The scorecards and heat maps are housed on the Coalition’s server and exported to the health systems periodically. The next step will be to establish an ongoing feed to each of the hospitals— one-stop shop that allows them to monitor population trends online in real time.

Findings from the data compiled in the Dashboard may identify new concerns or light the way toward even more improvement in care for individuals with behavioral health diagnoses. For example, while behavioral health emergency department visits were up 40 percent, behavioral health hospitalizations remained fairly steady, and the average length of stay for inpatient visits decreased from six days to five.

Of particular interest to the Camden Coalition, the group of behavioral health patients who visited emergency departments more than 15 times in one year increased by about 25 percent. Outside of our work with the Collaborative, the Coalition serves individuals with complex health and social needs, who are frequently hospitalized or admitted in emergency departments. The data showed that the more hospitals patients visited, the higher the likelihood they had at least one primary behavioral health diagnosis. For patients who visited all five of the hospitals, there was about an 80 percent chance of having visited for a behavioral health disorder.

Innovation Eases Collaboration

Long-established fields such as cardiology have used dashboards to monitor population health outcomes, but such an approach is rare in the field of behavioral health. What sets the Collaborative apart is the extraordinary cooperation between health systems region-wide in support of a single pursuit: helping behavioral health patients get well.

Efficient care is possible when providers share data and work together. And more efficient care leads to better health outcomes. Collaboration helps identify problems and emerging patterns, which are essential to finding solutions. Technology’s most transformative benefit is that it can help us pool our resources to do what we know will make the biggest difference: working together toward a common goal.