Technology & Tradition: It’s Not an Either/Or Proposition
“We can move forward without rejecting the past.”
In July, I was invited to attend the 55th anniversary celebration of the Fund for the City of New York, led by my friend, Dr. Lisette Nieves. For those not familiar, the fund was established by the Ford Foundation in 1968 and serves as a grantor of over a billion dollars in funding to nonprofits across the city. Likely, nowhere other than NY is a better microcosm of legacy providers, politics, community activism, and evolving public need for human services.
In her opening remarks above, I was struck by Dr. Nieves’s comment urging the provider community to embrace technology without viewing progress as “giving up” the rich history of their organizations. Modernizing and embracing technology can feel in conflict with “the way we do things” to some folks. I agree with Dr. Nieves and strongly believe that as a disability provider community, we aren’t disregarding the human experience or the organization’s legacy by pursuing automation, remote supports, and AI. It is possible to incorporate technology while still honoring the rich history and human connections that make an organization thrive.
One way to do this is to involve staff members and clients in adopting new technology. By soliciting feedback and allowing for collaboration, we ensure that new systems and tools align with the goals and values of the organization. Another point made by Dr. Nieves in her speech is, “When you don’t have to question your alignment on values, we can achieve anything.” It is important to remember that technology is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. By keeping this in mind, we identify ways technology can enhance the work already being done rather than replacing or disrupting it.
Another way to maintain the human focus of an organization while embracing technology is to prioritize staff training and development. Providing opportunities for professional growth and skill-building in areas such as data analysis and digital communication can help staff members feel engaged and invested in organizational change.
Ultimately, the key to modernizing and embracing technology without disregarding the human experience of an organization is to approach change thoughtfully and intentionally. By incorporating the perspectives of staff and clients and prioritizing ongoing education and collaboration, it is possible to create a culture of innovation that builds on past strengths while looking to the future.
Stacy DiStefano is the founder and CEO of Consulting for Human Services (CFHS) and a sought-after human services thought leader with extensive experience as a mental health clinician, business strategist, and operations leader.
Navigating Selective Contracting: Implications for Smaller I/DD Providers
In the evolving human services landscape, selective contracting has emerged as a prominent trend. This shift has prompted questions about its impact on those in the I/DD field, particularly smaller ($50 mil and under revenue) providers. After Pennsylvania’s released its concept paper earlier this year, Consulting for Human Services (CFHS) began exploring states that employ innovative contracting methods within their I/DD waiver programs, including Arkansas, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Arizona.
While direct replication of Pennsylvania’s approach in other states proved elusive, we found striking resemblances in certain states’ strategies. It’s plausible that Pennsylvania has chosen to withhold the specific states for inspiration due to the novel and inventive nature of their approach. Notably, Minnesota’s concept paper bears remarkable similarity to Pennsylvania’s, suggesting a convergence of ideas.
As the CFHS team explored the issue of selective contracting further, three potential challenges for smaller I/DD providers emerged.
- Robust Credentialing for Staff: Establishing a thorough and documented credentialing process for staff is paramount. It ensures the workforce has the qualifications and skills to provide high-quality services.
- Supported Employment Services: Small providers must forge connections or develop supported employment services. This emphasis is particularly significant as states are increasingly prioritizing competitive employment outcomes.
- Incorporating Life Sharing: Integrating life sharing into their services could be a valuable addition for residential providers. This approach promotes community integration and person-centered care.
In short, small residential providers must be prepared to incorporate supported living and rehabilitation services, adopt Electronic Health Records (EHR), embrace comprehensive policies and procedures for essential areas, and implement robust tracking mechanisms.
While this may be a tall order for many organizations, the ability to outsource, partner, and accelerate merger, acquisition, and partnership discussions may be the best path to sustainability. With thoughtful planning, these challenges are manageable for even small I/DD providers. CFHS will continue to monitor and explore solutions to this issue.
Shelly Chandler is the former CEO of the Iowa Association of Community Providers and an expert in implementing Medicaid-managed care, service delivery, organizational growth, and advocacy.
Industry Must Reads
I/DD Provider Dungarvin Adds Over 100 Locations in Bridges, Rumi Acquisition (Behavioral Health Business)
UnitedHealth Group’s Optum Makes Bid For Home Health Giant Amedisys (Home Health Care News)
A look at the early days of Medicaid redeterminations: KFF (Fierce Healthcare)
As Medicaid Purge Begins, ‘Staggering Numbers’ Of Americans Lose Coverage (Disability Scoop)
‘This Is Not a Fad’: Why Behavioral Health Can’t Run From Generative AI (Behavioral Health Business)
I/DD Providers Battle Major Misconceptions, Work to Integrate Mental Health Services (Behavioral Health Business)
Digital, Retail Mental Health Services Are Straining Community-Based Behavioral Health Providers (Behavioral Health Business)
The global leadership consulting firm Development Dimensions International, Inc. (DDI) recently released the latest edition of the Global Leadership Forecast —its long-running study exploring current and future leadership best practices. The 2023 report analyzes responses from 1,827 HR professionals and 13,695 leaders from 1,556 organizations across 50 countries and 24 major industry sectors. The results should be a wake-up call for any agency solely focused on the continuing DSP shortage.
In the aftermath of COVID-19 and accompanying changes in the labor market, organizations are struggling to recruit and retain talent to fill key middle-management positions. While this trend has remained largely under the radar, it promises to become a significant challenge as today’s leaders prepare to retire and organizations look to promote from within.