Mental Health News Radio

Ahead of the Curve: Anticipating the Excellence in Mental Health Act

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

curve“Excellence in Mental Health” can mean a number of things, but in healthcare, the phrase signifies momentous changes coming down the pipeline.  And with a proposed 1.5 million people soon to be enabled in finding access to care, my anticipation is that this is going to significantly impact practices’ need for effective EHR technology.

The bipartisan 2014 Excellence in Mental Health Act outlines criteria for practices to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHC). Once certified, centers are eligible for grants awarded to re-construct facilities and expand programs.

The change is exciting. Legislation hopes to assist providers in overcoming barriers between people and services, and points to technology to achieve this aim. Outlined within the Act are steep expectations for practices. And – in large part – it’s up to technology to help realize these standards. And EHR’s as well as providers will need to be ready for this.

So…What is “Excellence”?

We all have – in the form of values, beliefs, and personal drive – what we deem ‘excellence’ in our lives. We use these to measure our successes, progress, and to develop future goals. Hopefully, we use them to adapt our professional practices. And now – with Federal mandate stipulating what exactly ‘excellence’ is – it behooves us to understand these standards and ways that we can diligently – and meaningfully – fold them into our practice. 

According to the National Council for Behavioral Health – who has their finger on the pulse of these changes – a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE):

  1. Offers Easy Access

A BHCOE ensures availability of services to high-risk, high-need clients in a same-day timeframe; warranting new and existing clients “get the right care, at the right time, in the right setting, and with the right provider.”[i] In order to achieve this, processes must be engineered to support same-day/next day appointments and open scheduling, demonstrating effective management of access measures. Able and agile EHR technology will allow providers to network, gather, and manage scheduling information in efficient and thorough ways.

  1. Demonstrates Excellent Customer Service

A BHCOE recognizes that a seamless service experience takes a staff that feels connected to their community and the people they serve, who have deep understanding of trauma, who are updated on the best clinical practices, and who are committed to recovery and resiliency. This takes supportive leadership that prioritizes both client and staff engagement and wellness while ensuring that each have a way of measuring their own success.

  1. Provides Comprehensive Care

A BHCOE takes into active consideration the multifaceted concerns and needs that affect health. This acknowledges that healthcare includes housing, trauma, addictions, lifestyle, nutrition, etc. Understanding this, BHCOEs offer a broad scope of treatment services integrated with the appropriate supports that are connected by an electronic care plan, effectively managing care across a continuum.

  1. Demonstrates Outcomes

A BHCOE identifies goals and measurable targets, using tools embedded in the electronic record to measure progress. “…a Center of Excellence is measurement driven and technology enabled.”[ii] Outcome tools are used to gather information about client background, conditions, and goals, and measurable targets are set while professional and self-care plans developed and consistently monitored.

  1. Provides Value

A BHCOE utilizes the best in technology to ensure accountability for quality as well as cost. High value services achieve individual as well as system-wide outcomes, are more cost-effective than alternatives, and have removed excess costs through process improvement activities. A move towards high-value care is a move towards bundled payments/case rates.

“… at its core, the concept is simple: A Behavioral Health Center of Excellence must be viewed by all in the community as a great place to work and receive care — through the skillful blending of high tech and high touch.” -Linda Rosenberg President and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Timeline

The Act has a September, 2015 deadline to finalize these criteria. A practice that becomes a CCBHC is eligible for allocated funds aimed to broaden their range of services. Planning grants are available to assist practices in developing their applications to participate in the 2- year pilot. During the pilot phase, only 8 initial states will be chosen from the pool of applicants.

If you want to hear more, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is holding a listening session on the Excellence in Mental Health Act on November 12, 2014. It’s SAMHSA who has been tasked with writing the federal regulations that will specify how organizations can meet the law’s criteria to become CCBHCs.

Finding an ‘Excellent’ EHR

While the future is yet unclear, what is clear is that practices want EHR technology that is adaptable and at the ready for relevant changes. In your EHR search, it’s vital to look for EHR’s that are progressive and who include in their contract the ability and willingness to update based on newly applied healthcare legislation.

That’s where we come in.

At everythingEHR we take the changing field of mental health treatment very seriously. We also understand that as a behavioral healthcare provider you need a system that embraces excellence. Let us help you find the EHR that’s right for your organization.

Please feel free to reach out by emailing us.  



[i] The Future of Health, This document organizes the criteria for becoming a Federally-Qualified Community Behavioral Health Center (as laid out by the Excellence in Mental Health Act) into the framework of Five Elements: Access, Customer Service, Comprehensive Care, Outcomes, and Value

[ii] A Call for Excellence,

An opinion and information article written by Linda Rosenberg, CEO of The National Council

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,