Liz_Faris-Info_Pic.fwFrom the time we’re toddlers we are told that sharing is the right thing to do, that sharing is nice. As adults in the healthcare IT field, we are finding that sharing is more than nice, it’s necessary.

Behavioral health facilities in Colorado are a prime example. The transition from paper to electronic records is a challenging endeavor for any mental health organization – especially those in rural areas that don’t have a large number of employees or high revenue. But for our state,   it’s particularly complex in terms of state reporting. We at Northeast Behavioral Health knew we could benefit from a team approach with other providers across Colorado. We found that team in the form of a user group.

Nine community mental health agencies across Colorado make up our Netsmart user group. Getting together is a vehicle for learning opportunities. The user group has quarterly meetings at revolving host locations, allowing us to see the facilities where our peers work each day. The user group also has sub-committees which meet monthly. The tech subcommittee, consisting of programmers and analysts, is one example. The practice management subcommittee handles challenges that billing experiences. There’s also a state reporting sub-committee which strives to create flexibility in how each agency captures the state-required data elements while coming together with a unified approach in interpretation and submission of the data.

[Providers nationwide embrace user groups.]

[Providers nationwide embrace user groups.]

The camaraderie among users is unmistakable. We all speak the same language, and we share many bottom-line issues, including:

  • Sharing costs in development
  • Reduction in consultant utilization
  • Discovery of helpful reports which can be reproduced
  • Reduction in trouble-shooting costs
  • Increase in innovation

Since each member of our user group is at a different stage of adaption to the ever-changing healthcare landscape, there are often opportunities to “pay it forward” by sharing what we’ve learned with those in the early stages of their journey. That’s rewarding and it’s perhaps the stereotypical view of what sharing is all about.

But sharing, as we’ve found, allows all of us to capitalize on what others have learned. Because each of us solves problems in different ways, there are numerous opportunities for “aha moments.” As a peer recently said, “it feels like we’re in it together.” And, in fact, we are.