Transforming Care With Partnership Tools
Behavioral Health teams pivot to virtual house calls
After government stay-at-home orders derailed their plans for a patient support group, members of Kaiser Permanente’s Marlow Heights Behavioral Health team in Maryland set up a video chat for vulnerable individuals sheltering in place.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to be open and receptive to connecting with our members in a different way,” says Dawn Anderson, a psychotherapist with UFCW Local 400 and union co-lead for the Level 4 unit-based team. “This way we’re still supporting patients with serious health issues.”
Propelled by the global pandemic, Behavioral Health teams across the Mid-Atlantic States are using partnership principles and tools to transform how and where patients seek care — resulting in changes likely to outlast the crisis.
Connecting with patients
Therapists are working from home and counseling patients via telephone and video. Unit-based team members are meeting virtually, too, using collaborative digital tools to identify challenges and solutions.
They’re also using such tried-and-true performance improvement tools as the Rapid Improvement Model to reveal the best ways to connect with patients by telephone and video.
“Sometimes I will connect with patients on video, then after 5 minutes something will cause a disruption and I’ll have to ask if we can connect via telephone,” says Anderson. “We are still adapting to telehealth technology.”
The rapid-fire changes haven’t been easy for team members, who are conducting assessments with patients by phone instead of in person because of social distancing requirements.
“We’ve done things in this pandemic season that we normally would not have done,” says Reuben Steele, Behavioral Health operations manager and management co-lead. “That has caused some initial anxiety but, ultimately, the team has been able to adapt and adjust quickly.”
Team members agree having a voice in decisions about ways to deliver care is helping them cope with change. A key feature of the Labor Management Partnership is involving frontline workers and union leaders in decision making.
“The LMP is a great way to think outside of the box and figure out what we can do to meet people’s needs,” says Lindsey McDaniel, a psychotherapist, UFCW Local 400 member and labor co-lead for the Silver Spring Behavioral Health team, a Level 4 UBT in Maryland.
“We’re able to ‘check egos at the door’ and come forth with ideas and suggestions. That’s what I love about the UBT setting,” she says. “Our UBT consultant and manager support us and are open to feedback on team projects and goals. This is the forum where I feel my colleagues and I are being heard.”