Top Behavioral Health Strategies to Improve Outcomes in 2024

Colleagues working together

The behavioral health industry is an ever-evolving field with many ongoing challenges and patient needs. To keep up, organizations must adapt continuously and adjust their behavioral health strategies. This means adopting new technologies to support employee engagement and patient care while finding strategic ways to increase efficiency and maintain top-notch, human-centric care.

In ContinuumCloud’s 2024 Behavioral Health Industry Trends Report, we surveyed behavioral health leaders to identify the top challenges facing these organizations. Here, we’ll explore the behavioral health strategies you can use to overcome these hurdles to improve outcomes for all stakeholders.

Top Behavioral Health Strategies to Implement in 2024

Behavioral health strategies: woman talking to her colleagues

Improving outcomes for providers, patients, and all stakeholders requires a multipronged approach. Let’s delve into the top behavioral health strategies that support human resources operations, patient care outcomes, and financial sustainability in 2024.

Invest in Employee Engagement and Retention Efforts

Year over year, recruiting and retention are top concerns for behavioral health organizations. As organizations report struggling with high turnover rates and a lack of quality applicants, one of the best strategies is to focus on engaging and retaining current staff.

This is a big task, but implementing small changes such as improving communication within the organization, creating an employee recognition program, and supporting employee wellness initiatives can go a long way toward boosting employee retention

Employers can quickly build an impactful employee engagement strategy with the right tools, such as an HR management platform that supports company-wide communication and employee recognition efforts.

Shorten the Recruitment Process

In addition to focusing on retention efforts, behavioral health orgs will also want to look at their recruiting process to improve staffing levels. Shortening the recruiting process can help companies onboard qualified applicants more efficiently and provide a better candidate experience. 

One of the best strategies for shortening the recruitment process is removing unnecessary manual processes. An HCM (human capital management) platform with built-in recruitment management can automate job posting with one-click distribution to job boards. It can also streamline candidate reviews by consolidating applications from different sources into one seamless system.

Use Data Metrics to Better Evaluate Employee Performance

Most behavioral health organizations aren’t properly leveraging their workforce data to evaluate employee performance. In the 2024 report, ContinuumCloud found that only 29% of organizations use key performance indicators (KPIs) or data-driven metrics to evaluate individual performance.

In a busy healthcare setting, KPIs are an invaluable resource for keeping tabs on employee productivity and performance. Behavioral health managers don’t have time to look over their employees’ shoulders or micromanage how they use their time daily. In inpatient settings where employees work around the clock in different shifts, oversight can be particularly challenging for managers. That’s where KPIs can help. 

Data metrics can track key individual outcomes such as patient satisfaction rates, whether sessions are starting on time, how quickly providers are responding to patient messages, and other key productivity metrics. This allows leaders to efficiently monitor individual performance and coach employees on any areas of improvement.

Evaluate Current Technology to Prepare for Growth

Growth is a high priority for behavioral healthcare companies. In fact, 65% of survey respondents in this year’s Behavioral Health Industry Trends report indicated that their organization plans to grow or expand its behavioral health services in 2024. 

This is good news for both organizations and patients, as the demand for behavioral health services such as substance use disorder (SUD) intervention, mental health services, suicide prevention, and eating disorder treatment has increased significantly in recent years. The American Psychological Association (APA) has also found that patients are presenting with more severe symptoms and spending more time in treatment compared to prior years. 

To meet this growing demand for services, many organizations are looking to grow by expanding telehealth offerings, increasing community-based outreach, and hiring more clinicians across different provider types (e.g., substance abuse counselors, psychologists, and social workers). 

However, organizations should also closely review their current technology to ensure they have the necessary tools to support their desired growth. Many orgs lack the technology to support growing employee teams, manage scheduling and communication for additional patients, and effectively implement hybrid or remote workforce management

How Software Solutions Support Behavioral Health Strategies

Behavioral health strategies: employee using his laptop while standing

You now know that technology solutions are a vital part of preparing for organizational growth and operational efficiency, but what solutions do you really need? Below, we’ve rounded up the three most important software solutions for supporting behavioral health strategies in 2024.

Promote Employee-Focused Initiatives With an HCM 

Employee-focused initiatives such as retention, recruiting, and employee engagement are top priorities for most behavioral health leaders in 2024. Without the proper healthcare HR software, these efforts often fall flat. 

HCM systems combine key elements such as payroll, benefits, talent management, application tracking, and HR analytics to provide all the necessary features that support teams throughout the entire employee lifecycle. From promoting employee well-being through robust health plans and benefits to reducing the time-to-hire with better recruiting practices, HCM systems make it a breeze to implement behavioral health HR strategies.

Amp Up Patient Engagement With Software Tools

Engaging patients throughout their care journey is an essential part of delivering high-quality mental health care. Patient engagement platforms support evidence-based, whole-person care through telehealth functionality, peer support networks, digital interventions, and family programming. 

These tools facilitate improved patient care outcomes by keeping patients engaged between appointments. Since the ultimate goal is to provide patients with a better quality of life, organizations should always look for behavioral health strategies and technology that promote treatment compliance and patient engagement.

Streamline Scheduling, Communication, and Billing With an EHR

An electronic health record (EHR) can address some of the greatest challenges within the behavioral healthcare system, but this type of solution is often underutilized. Most orgs have digitized their health records by now, but many still aren’t taking advantage of everything EHRs offer. 

In the Behavioral Health Industry Trends report, only 38% of organizations indicated using a patient portal. Patient portals offer a secure and centralized platform for patients and health professionals to collaborate on care. Implementing this added feature can support better communication between care teams and boost patient engagement.

Integrated revenue cycle management (RCM) tools also support behavioral health strategies by helping organizations stay on top of billing. After all, consistent income is necessary to keep things running. There are often health insurance and Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement rate disparities for behavioral health treatments versus primary care or physical health treatments. 

Such lowered reimbursement rates and increased claim rejections create a major challenge for behavioral health providers. Using an EHR with built-in RCM functionality can alleviate some of that stress by automating billing and tracking claim rejections, helping organizations get paid properly for the services they provide.

Creating a Unified Data Source

Some 44% of behavioral health organizations reported having difficulty compiling data between systems. When employee and patient data is spread out between recruiting management systems, HRIS systems, patient communication portals, billing software, and scheduling platforms, it can be hard to properly synchronize that data. (Not to mention it can be frustrating to log into various platforms that don’t “talk” to each other.) A unified solution offers a much smoother, more efficient, and user-friendly experience. 

Take Your Behavioral Health Strategies to the Next Level

Behavioral health strategies: group of women talking to each other

As you implement new behavioral health strategies to meet your 2024 goals, you’ll need the right software solutions in place. Whether your organization is looking to expand its services, improve staff or patient retention, or increase operational efficiency, solutions are available to help.

ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform is the only HCM solution designed specifically to support the behavioral health and human services industry. It allows organizations to streamline recruiting, harness performance data, and better engage employees. Meanwhile, the patient engagement platform and EHR software support patient care with appointment reminders, simplified revenue cycle management, and enhanced communication tools to help organizations meet the behavioral health needs of patients.

Contact us today to learn how ContinuumCloud can support your strategies and operational efficiency.

Previous Resource
Behavioral Health Workforce Strategies to Prepare for the Future
Behavioral Health Workforce Strategies to Prepare for the Future

With ongoing staffing shortages and planned service expansions on the horizon, learn how to support your be...

Next Resource
Understanding Why Substance Abuse EHR Is a Public Health Game Changer
Understanding Why Substance Abuse EHR Is a Public Health Game Changer

Learn how a substance abuse EHR can improve outcomes for community-based programs, public health agencies, ...