How to Overcome the 6 Biggest Behavioral Health Challenges

Entrepreneurs looking at a tablet

The behavioral health and human services (BHHS) industry delivers essential health treatment and evidence-based interventions to promote the overall health of vulnerable populations. However, significant behavioral health challenges — including the ongoing shortage of mental health professionals, frequent claim denials, and increased patient demand — continue to plague the industry.

Thankfully, using the right tools can alleviate many of the most common obstacles. Learn how to overcome the biggest behavioral health challenges of 2024.

Top Behavioral Health Challenges 

Behavioral health challenges: entrepreneur using a tablet

BHHS professionals face continuous challenges, from delivering excellent patient care amid soaring demand to maintaining financial sustainability in an increasingly complex health system. Here are six of the most pressing issues to address. 

Ongoing Staffing Shortages

The BHHS industry has been confronted with staffing shortages for years. With a limited talent pool of credentialed clinicians and health professionals to recruit, BHHS organizations often struggle to compete for talent against other health specialties that can offer higher salaries and more perks. 

These staffing shortages negatively impact current employees and patients. Provider burnout is an ongoing challenge, and short staffing often expedites burnout due to heightened workloads. A recent study from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing found that 48% of the behavioral health workers surveyed have considered seeking other employment opportunities due to the effects of workforce shortages, including stressors such as higher caseloads and burnout.

Inadequate staffing also often results in missed revenue opportunities, which is one of the most significant behavioral health challenges. Tracking missed revenue can be tricky without the right tools, as that crucial data can help you prioritize roles for hiring. Workforce analytics tools like those included in ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform can help you identify which vacant positions result in the greatest loss of income.

Tracking Labor Costing

Behavioral health organizations have more complex labor allocations and limited budgets, so it’s imperative to track these expenses accurately. You need greater visibility around labor costs to track spending and how you spend it. 

Tools like Position Control support better labor cost tracking and clearer labor allocations. Most HCM systems are employee-based rather than position-based, making labor cost tracking and forecasting difficult due to the unique fluidity of the BHHS workforce. 

Many employees work across different health programs, care settings, and departments throughout the week, making it harder to track labor costs. Position-based systems can better allocate employees across different cost centers and provide real-time tracking to help organizations manage labor spending properly.

Inefficient Workflows

Inefficient workflows and processes can come at a great cost to behavioral healthcare

organizations. Slow, manual human resources and administration workflows take up time that could be better utilized elsewhere. To see how much your organization’s inefficient processes are costing your company, check out our labor cost calculator.

Creating efficient workflows is a major challenge for behavioral healthcare systems. In the ContinuumCloud 2024 Behavioral Health Industry Report, we identified several roadblocks that are preventing organizations from maintaining efficiency, including:

  • Difficulty training employees on workflows and processes.
  • Struggling to maintain consistent standards across the organization.
  • A lack of clear documentation on established workflows.
  • Not using digital tools to automate and streamline workflows.

Maintaining efficient workflows and properly training employees to follow them can be especially difficult when your company uses various disjointed tools. A unified platform can streamline workflows and make it easier to train employees on the required tools and workflows.

Heightened Patient Demand

The demand for behavioral healthcare services in America has remained high since the onset of the pandemic. While high demand is generally a good thing from a business perspective, it also strains organizations and employees. In the behavioral health field, high demand means many people are struggling with mental health conditions, drug use, self-harm, and other serious matters — and they may not be getting their care needs met.

To meet this heightened demand, it’s essential to prioritize proper staffing and organizational efficiency to ensure patients are seen in a timely manner. Offering telehealth services, peer support, and digital interventions to support patients between appointments can help providers provide consistent and efficient care delivery while dealing with heightened demand.

Tracking and Improving Patient Outcomes

The primary goal of behavioral health providers is to help patients improve their well-being. Tracking and improving patient outcomes is of the utmost importance — and one of the greatest challenges — for human services and mental health providers.

Tools such as an electronic health record (EHR) can help BHHS providers track and report patient outcomes. Patient engagement software can also improve patient outcomes by keeping patients engaged in their own care with digital interventions, peer support, family programming, and personalized Care Journeys.

Denied Insurance Claims

Denied insurance claims are a major challenge for behavioral health care providers. If not properly tracked and disputed, these claim denials can result in significant lost revenue. The behavioral health industry tends to have a higher claim denial rate and lower reimbursement rates from Medicaid, Medicare, and private health plans than other medical specialties focused on primary care or physical health needs.

As such, BHHS organizations must closely track health insurance claims and resubmit promptly if denied to maintain financial sustainability. Using a digital revenue cycle management tool can make it easier to track the status of these claims and resubmit denied claims as needed.

Technology Solutions to Solve Behavioral Health Challenges

Behavioral health challenges: co-workers working together

Having the right technology makes combating the most common behavioral health challenges easier. Here’s a closer look at some top solutions.

Human Capital Management Software

Human capital management (HCM) software supports human resources and talent management functions. HCM systems wrap key elements such as payroll, benefits, performance management, recruiting, and workforce analytics into one unified digital solution. 

While many of the top HCM software options on the market fail to address the unique needs of BHHS organizations, ContinuumCloud’s HCM was specifically designed to address behavioral health challenges and pain points.

Electronic Health Records

EHR software makes it easy to maintain accurate healthcare records with electronic clinical documentation, caseload management, and scheduling tools. Some EHRs, like ContinuumCloud’s EHR, include revenue cycle management features to support billing and claim management.

Using an EHR can simplify your documentation and billing workflows while providing one centralized portal for medical records, referrals, appointment information, and insurance data. It also offers a better patient experience with an easy-to-access patient portal where clients can review their health records and collaborate with their care providers.

Patient Engagement Software

Patient engagement software can help keep patients involved in their health journeys. Maintaining engagement between appointments with helpful health resources (such as a content library) and appointment reminders typically leads to better treatment compliance and consistent care.

ContinuumCloud's patient engagement platform also includes family and alumni programming. Those dealing with substance use disorder (SUD) or mental health problems like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and other behavioral health conditions often need ongoing support. Offering resources for families to understand and support the needs of a loved one can improve treatment outcomes. The alumni programming features also support long-term health outcomes by giving post-treatment patients a community to connect with.

It’s Possible to Overcome Behavioral Health Challenges 

The challenges of the behavioral health field are vast, but there are solutions to help you rise to the occasion — and improve outcomes for patients and providers alike.

ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform is designed to tackle major healthcare HR pain points like recruiting and automates common workflows to free up more time for hands-on, employee-focused initiatives. Meanwhile, our robust EHR offers built-in revenue cycle management tools to simplify claim tracking. Moreover, our patient engagement software can help you improve patient outcomes with digital interventions, telehealth tools, and alumni programming to keep patients engaged in their health care.

Contact us today to learn how you can harness the power of these tools for your organization.

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