Beacon to Measure a Different Level of Outcomes

SurveyGreetings from the Sunshine State! However, it’s more than sunshine that is making Florida a place of interest in Beacon Health Options’ (Beacon) ongoing story. In the first week of July, Beacon launched an outcomes pilot in Florida whose aim is to measure a different level of outcomes – outcomes that matter and truly reflect whether we are improving the lives of some of the most complex and vulnerable members in the state.

What does this mean exactly? “Outcomes that matter” are those measurements that reflect whether someone is, in fact, better because of the care they are getting. For example, do they have somewhere to live, or do they have something meaningful to do during the day, such as going to a job? Meaningful outcomes are not about reduced readmission rates or follow-up after hospitalization rates. Those measures may be meaningful to the system, but not necessarily to the individual. Therefore, our ability to pinpoint crucial aspects of our members’ lives is a fundamental shift in Beacon’s strategy and how we will create value for our members and enrich their lives.

What does the pilot look like?

First, we are partnering with local community mental health centers (CMHCs) on the West Coast of Florida, which are vital to the pilot’s success as they treat a large portion of these complex members. We have collected updated demographic information to ensure we reach out to the more than 4,000 members involved in the pilot. Through two technology vendors, we will be reaching out to these members in two ways:

  • Text message: A survey will go out to the member once, every three months for a total of 12 months. The member must consent before participating in the survey.
  • iPad: Members will be asked to take a survey when they visit their doctors at the CMHC.

Meaningful outcomes are not about reduced readmission rates or follow-up after hospitalization rates. Those measures may be meaningful to the system, but not necessarily to the individual.

By using a combination of SMS text messaging and iPad surveys, Beacon will be able to obtain real-time, meaningful, and securely stored data not currently being captured for this population. The surveys are interactive, brief, and to the point. Since participation in the secure survey is completely voluntary, members who complete it are actively engaging us for treatment, which is an important step in recommending suggested care pathways. Case managers will follow up with those members who request housing, employment, and/or peer assistance, using a completely new process and workflow.

Why is the pilot important?

This pilot is exciting for several important reasons, as follows.

  1. These outcomes are currently not being measured by Beacon, nor generally by the industry. However, research and provider experience have consistently shown that meeting the basic human needs of social interaction, safe housing, and a sense of meaning or purpose in life is directly related to the overall health and capacity for recovery in this population.
  2. These outcomes are crucial to the overall health of our members, in a way that readmission rates are not.
  3. The pilot affords Beacon the opportunity to harness technology in a manner relatively new to the field of behavioral health but very familiar to our members.

We want all stakeholders to be up to date on the pilot’s progress. Therefore, we have launched an interactive Outcomes Pilot microsite, which is accessible to all Beacon staff, our health plans and our providers. Be sure to visit the site at: http://www.polarishealth.com/beacon/ and to check out the iPad survey video demonstration.

Our ability to pinpoint crucial aspects of our members’ lives is a fundamental shift in Beacon’s strategy and how we will create value for our members and enrich their lives.

As noted, managed behavioral health all too often relies on utilization statistics and claims expense to determine our success instead of on the trajectory of the lives of the people we serve. This pilot, on the other hand, invites a new way of looking at success as it shifts the focus to factors that meaningfully affect our members and their recovery process. Most importantly, it is important steps in meeting Beacon’s mission – helping people live their lives to their fullest potential.

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3 Comments. Leave new

Jacquelyn Pettis
July 12, 2016 5:19 pm

Great idea! I work in the Linthicum Maryland engagement center. I have worked in public mental health system for over 30 years. Of course we need to track outcomes that effect our bottom line. But from a human perspective measuring quality of life outcomes demonstrate that we recognize that the people we serve want the same things we all want to have a quality meaningful life. I hope the pilot is successful and can be expanded to other states.

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Congratulations! We, at LifeWIRE, are very excited and proud to be partnering with Beacon Health Options in this Outcomes Pilot through use of our interactive communication platform to manage the interactions.

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Thomas Flaherty
July 24, 2016 11:37 am

Clinical Care Manager, Horizon New Jersey Engagement Center. I am thinking that a logical expansion of this pilot is to the population that includes the Members, a large number from out of state, who are served at the many facilities in the South Florida area treating Substance Use Disorders. The outcomes for the Members of this population are already a focus of attention and the target of a new initiative at Beacon Health Options / Horizon Behavioral Health.

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