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Michael Carrone

Director, Health Transformation, National Council for Behavioral Health

National Council’s Practice Transformation Academy: Creating a Building Block for Change

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The health care landscape is changing with unprecedented speed and organizations of all sizes are feeling the pressure to make the complex switch to value-based care.

The National Council’s Practice Transformation Academy has already helped 20 organizations that were proactively preparing to transition to population health, risk and quality management and from volume-based care to a value-based reimbursement. This year-long program was created to help operationalize the necessary organizational changes and skills to prepare for a value-centric future.

The path to success is different for everyone so the Academy built the program with flexibility to address unique needs. With each organization at a different point in the process and facing different challenges, the Academy helped them see and address practice transformation incrementally.

The faculty, a group of national experts in health care finance, quality improvement and value-based payments, knew there would be multiple roads to the same destination – value-based care. The curriculum started with the 1,000-foot view – what it means to the field, then drilled down to what it means for the individual organizations. From there, each organization rose to the challenge of creating the building blocks for change.

No ordinary curriculum could achieve that level of personalization, so in addition to a powerful curriculum teaching the fundamentals of change, each organization adopted a “stretch project” that helped them get closer to their goal. This stretch project helped organizations demonstrate larger change on a smaller scale.

And that’s when things got interesting. The stretch projects were as successful, creative and diverse as the organizations that participated in the Academy.

New Horizon Behavioral Health (Horizon) focused on stratifying their population by risk level and incorporating risk into their electronic processes. While this required significant development from their IT department, Horizon realized that the outcomes of this enhancement would be worth the wait – new tables for medication reconciliation, hospital admissions and improved efficiency for intake counselors. Waiting for the enhancements, however, didn’t stop Horizon from making progress. They developed a workaround; an “on demand” report to extract data on individuals referred from inpatient facilities.

Central Nassau Guidance created a risk matrix for their behavioral health population that focused on the physical and social aspects of health. Leveraging their engagement with the Academy, they created an environment where behavioral health isn’t the ONLY aspect of a client’s care that’s talked about and have successfully begun a culture shift that focuses on value to their clients

Way Station developed a value-based payment scorecard to monitor progress and eventually share with potential funders. It is populated with baseline and ongoing data, as well as comparison to outside data to benchmark progress. In doing this, they’ve begun to capture and communicate their value proposition.

These are just three of the innovations. Academy organizations increased their capacity to implement population health management, risk stratification and prepare for alternative payment arrangements that focus on value. But they achieved so much more. The 20 organizations not only demonstrated the principles of effective change; they created tangible tools for change that are specific to them.

We are proud to recognize the remarkable achievements of the first Practice Transformation Academy.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington

Children’s Home Society of Washington

Columbia River Mental Health Services

Compass Health


Evergreen Recovery Centers

Evergreen Treatment Services

Frontier Behavioral Health

Grant Integrated Services

Greater Lakes Mental Health

Kitsap Mental Health Services

Lourdes Counseling Center

MultiCare Behavioral Health

Peninsula Behavioral Health

SeaMar Community Health Centers

Sound Mental Health

Valley Cities

Willapa Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health Services/Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (YVFWC)