Connections - 05.30.24

Extreme Usability and the Commitment to I/DD

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Intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) organizations face a unique set of challenges that offer opportunities both clinically and operationally. People with I/DD are 40% more likely to have a co-occurring mental illness and 45% more likely to have three or more chronic conditions. This means that integrating I/DD, behavioral health and primary care services will lead to better outcomes.

Health care IT continues to rapidly advance to support numerous models of integrated care. As a result, I/DD organizations can now harness the latest technology to promote whole person and self-directed care and better support providers.

Today’s Reality

In recent years, Americans’ perceptions and attitudes about mental health have shifted and as a result we see a new emphasis on mental wellness. With this societal change, the public’s perception of individuals with I/DD has shifted as well. We are beginning to dispel some of the wrongful stereotypes of the past. With so many people seeking treatment and stereotypes shifting, the human services sector simply can’t keep up. According to ANCOR, 63% of providers have discontinued services due to staffing challenges.

Eighty-three percent of I/DD organizations are turning away new referrals; while there is a  40-70% turnover rate among I/DD direct service providers (DSPs). And since these individuals most likely have medical and/or mental health diagnoses, the right technology must focus on extreme usability and efficiency, including the ability to accommodate:

  • One platform to document and streamline all services
  • Many different service delivery models that all have unique workflows
  • Automate everyday processes to alleviate the administrative burden so DSPs can focus on delivering supports
  • Intuitive user experience that enhances current workflows, easy to use and solves the greatest paint points
  • Recruiting the best talent and developing, clinically focused solutions that will help retain them

Extreme Usability: Making an Already-Great Design Even Better

“Extreme usability” means using technology as a tool for service, expansion, staff retention and recruitment. This involves using one system for all aspects of individuals care, plus intuitive tools like automation (AI/machine learning), with an interface that’s easy for everyone at your organization including DSPs and care providers.

Extreme usability results in significant improvements to your bottom line. Bills spend 10% fewer days in accounts receivable. Claims per DSP increased by 11%. And with 40% less time spent on documentation; DSPs can provide care to six more individuals every week. And that––not documentation––is the work they want to do.

Less Paperwork, More Client Care with AI

Automation tools can help address routine documentation tasks to allow your DSPs to focus on delivering support. Seventy-six percent of them like the idea of artificial intelligence (AI), and it’s easy to see why. Providers spend 40% of their time on repetitive and often seen as mundane tasks, contributing to burnout and reducing time spent delivering supports.

However, using an AI-powered virtual assistant, clinical documentation time has been cut by 50%. This tool uses AI to suggest clinical recommendations, optimizes billing codes and offers contextual keywords. Providers are now completing a note in four minutes and finalizing them within two hours of a session.

You Benefit

AI documentation tools are just of the latest emerging technology solutions available to promote retention and grow your bottom line. Automated mobile dispatch, maximizing the number of visits for caregivers with efficient route planning, is another innovative way for I/DD organizations to provide care in home and community-based settings.

Extreme Usability includes many workflows, all tied to a single, integrated platform. Operational efficiency and staff retention––at a time when staffing shortages are at a record high––has been transformative for human services agencies. “The benefits have been off the charts,” Tuerk Schlesinger, CEO at AltaPointe Behavioral Health Systems told us. “We’re using the efficiencies created to serve people we wouldn’t normally be able to serve.”

“We are now onboarding staff faster and new staff are billing at full capacity in three weeks versus six weeks,” said David West, CEO at Integral Care. Being able to give staff the tools to better connect with the individuals they care for goes back to why they got into clinical work in the first place.

Tricia Zerger is the Senior Director of Human Services at Netsmart.