We’ve come a long way in how our culture and our healthcare community treat individuals with severe mental illness (SMI). In the 1840s, people suspected of having a SMI were placed in an institution that closely resembled a jail … without the option to leave. This was culturally accepted because the belief was if they were out of sight, they were out of mind. In the early 1900s, providers began experimenting with radical treatments, with the ultimate goal to eliminate mental illness. In the 1940s, pharmaceuticals were introduced as treatment options and in the 1950s the number of people institutionalized had decreased significantly. Through modern therapies and more public education, mental health is slowly losing its stigma and we are focused on the whole person.

As mental health becomes part of mainstream culture and conversation, the healthcare communities who treat this population have been making advancements of their own as it relates to an individual’s recovery. Traditionally, you saw a physician who treated your symptoms without looking at the underlying issue or considering your perspective or asking for your input. As an individual, your expectation was that once you need that high level of community support you will need that level of intensity forever. Recovery was not an option.

Providers today are focused on a health, wellness and recovery approach. They are putting the person at the center of their recovery. Recovery-focused organizations believe people have, within themselves, the capacity to learn, grow and change. Their goal is to help individuals recover regardless of their diagnosis.

So, how are they doing this? As the healthcare environment moves to a value-based care model, proven outcomes and measurements are quickly becoming the rule, not the exception. Through Netsmart technology, providers have access to data that will allow them to track and report on social determinants of health, such as employment, education, reduction in jail days and detox days, and reduction of inpatient psychiatric re-admission rates. Together, providers and consumers are able to track recovery progress in a collaborative manner.

This kind of data and interaction is invaluable to both sides. For example, during the intake process, typically a manual process, providers are now able to determine the best level of service intensity in a standardized and validated manner. This ensures that individuals are receiving the right treatment along their journey, with the intent of eventually graduating the person to lower levels of care.

Results of both provider and consumer outcome measures are used to inform the goals and objectives identified in individual care plans and services as well as evaluate outcomes of care, treatment and the services provided to the populations served.

Enabling this type of collaboration and interaction means individuals are being treated with recovery as the ultimate goal. Organizations have the ability to report longitudinal outcomes and offer a visualization to consumers, providers and payers that recovery is taking place. For example, organizations are able to work with a homeless population to provide them with transitional living and connect them with the resources they need while monitoring the impact on obtaining housing with other outcomes.

We admire our clients who work every day to empower individuals to make healthy decisions and are honored to be able to marry technology with practice-based evidence that enhances everyone’s understanding of progress, and ultimately recovery.