Themes from ACCELERATE 2022

April 19, 2022

ContinuumCloud’s first annual conference just passed, featuring thought leadership on a variety of topics pertinent to the behavioral health and human services space. We heard from industry executives on topics that encompassed everything from building alumni programs and developing an integrated care model to addressing financial sustainability outside of the CFO’s office. Through these sessions, we saw a few common themes emerge about culture, service delivery, and the importance of community.

Culture is at the core of meaningful and lasting change.

With session titles that included Creating a Culture of Transformation to Accelerate Organizational Excellence, Company Culture: The Cornerstone of Sustainable Success, and The Culture of Integrated Care 2.0, it’s easy to see that organizational culture is a huge focus within behavioral health and human services right now. However, these sessions went further than talking about employee engagement and retention, which tends to be the broader goal of company culture initiatives.

Any major operational change or shift in thinking, whether it’s adopting the CCBHC integrated care model or embracing nimbleness and learning within the organization, can be implemented more effectively when it’s thought about as part of the organizational culture itself. Rola D. Aamar, PhD, and Leigh Steiner, PhD of Relias, explored how to incorporate learning and continuous improvement into organizational culture in their session Embracing a Growth Mindset: How to Strengthen Your Organization by Implementing a Culture of Learning.

Many initiatives related to improving care or progressing employee development start out strong as good ideas but then fail to be adopted into a long-term strategy. With broad initiatives that span multiple departments and touch every employee, aligning these changes with the organization’s core values through culture is what can lead to meaningful and lasting change. Thinking beyond what type of change you want to see and the steps to implement that change, a cultural shift means digging deeper into the impact across the company and how those changes can be embraced and supported at every level of the organization.

We need to think about our services more broadly.

Internal change throughout the organization isn’t the only area where thinking holistically can help. Throughout the past few years, how we think about service delivery has changed significantly as well. Telehealth and remote care have upended the idea that behavioral healthcare must be provided in person at the provider’s office. At the same time, these new modes of service delivery have presented their own unique challenges. Human services leaders today are looking at ways to provide the best of both worlds, which typically means navigating the complexities of hybrid work and service delivery.

But there’s more to providing services than simply the mode of delivery. In Building an Alumni Program from the Bottom Up, Patrick Custer discussed the importance of engaging with and building a community of support for alumni who are post treatment. And these points were further reinforced in the session Building Community & Your Bottom Line by Engaging Clients, Patients, Alumni & Families. Extending the continuum of care beyond the end of traditional services can help patients and alumni receive ongoing support – as well as additional treatment if the need arises.

Tamanna Patel’s session Advancing Social Justice and Health Equity within Mental Health & SUD Organizations also highlighted the importance of looking at the organization and its services within the greater context of society. Access to care and the ability to provide timely care – things that need to be in place before treatment even begins – can help organizations ensure they’re doing their part to advance health equity.

Bringing things back to the organizational level, we also need to think about how our services and operations impact the bottom line. While a lot of focus is put on patient outcomes (and rightly so), we can’t ignore our financial performance either. In a panel session led by Maggie Labarta, PhD (Financial Sustainability is Everyone’s Job: Optimizing Outside the CFO’s Office), we explored how organizations make financial performance a priority across departments to promote the sustainability of the entire organization.

Cultivating community and human connection is paramount.

Whether thinking about employee wellbeing or patient outcomes, one theme rings true throughout: we need community, and we need human connection. And cultivating those things in a very intentional manner lies at the heart of organizational sustainability. In the session Using Emotional Intelligence to Build a Sustainable Workforce, Merideth Erickson walked us through the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace and how leading with EQ contributes to better recruiting, engagement, and retention. And, in Supporting Your Workforce Across the Entire Employee Lifecycle, we explored some of the digital tools organizations can use to enhance the employee experience in an increasingly complex and diverse organizational structure.

ACCELERATE 2022 is now available on demand. Watch thought leadership sessions from behavioral health and human services executives to dive deeper into these topics and explore strategies and solutions for your organization.

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