Partner Perspectives: MTM Services

For this blog post, the second in our “Partner Perspectives” series, we sat down with Scott Lloyd, president and CEO of MTM Services – a National Council Platinum Partner – to learn more about their work, the future of the field and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What one thing in the mental health and substance use field do you think deserves more attention?

“Documentation required by various government agencies. It’s just too much! Too much duplication, too much bureaucracy, too many questions that are not designed to improve care. Filling out all of that paperwork takes clinicians away from essential time with clients and contributes to their burnout. We have a workforce crisis right now, and I am convinced that documentation requirements have only made it worse. Nobody got into this field to spend hours every week filling out paperwork. We have to turn this around – we have to figure out a way to make the documentation process better.”

What’s a bold, 10-year prediction about the space in which you work?

“I know it sounds cliché, but I would love it if in 10 years, MTM Services had worked itself out of a job. Everything we do begins with trying to fix a system that is not working. And that is at so many levels – from funding and financing to workforce issues and operations, patient access and delivery of services, down to documentation and the required paperwork. Imagine if all of those systems worked efficiently and were designed to benefit the people they allegedly serve – clients and clinicians. What if that was the number one requirement of every system – to make life better for people? Then there would be no need for system redesign work, and MTM would happily close its doors.”

As we come out of the shadows of this global pandemic, there will be a lot of discussion about what mental health and substance use treatment service will look like – how it will be delivered, paid for, equitable access and, of course, need. What has the pandemic taught you about your work? 

“What’s old is new again. For more than 20 years, we have been working with teams to adopt changes that will make their systems function more efficiently and effectively. We’re talking about changes like Same Day Access, Collaborative Documentation, effective data collection and analysis to inform operations, and so much more. COVID-19 created the ultimate real-world pressure test. If your systems were working before COVID-19, you were able to weather the storm. And if your systems were not working before COVID-19, everything got exponentially worse. COVID-19 put a spotlight on systems that work and changes that matter. Hopefully, as we come out of COVID-19, organizations that struggled will be ready to make meaningful changes moving forward.”

Is there a story about working with a National Council member that makes you proud?

“Honestly, I am proud of every organization we work with because it means they want something better; they recognize the need to make changes and are ready to get to work. Nobody is forced to work with us; they choose to, and we are honored by the trust they put in us. We embrace the opportunity to do the hard work together. I love it when we hear from clients months or even years later and they proudly tell us how much better things are for them now than when we first met. That is the best reward of all – helping organizations get better so they can help more people in need.”

What would people find surprising about the work MTM Services does?

“I think many people know MTM as an organization focused on improving the ability of organizations to provide quality care that meet with clinical best practices – whether that’s through Same Day Access, Collaborative Documentation, Just In Time Prescriber Scheduling, or Evaluation and Management coding and documentation. All of that is at our core. But what I think people are sometimes surprised to learn is that we think it’s essential to also look at the financial health of an organization. You can’t deliver excellent care without a healthy revenue cycle and balance sheet. They go hand in hand. But that’s not always where the conversation starts with new clients, and that’s okay – we get there eventually!”

What is one of the biggest challenges facing the field right now?

I think we need to get back to basics – providing timely access to quality care to all who need it. Over time, so many reporting requirements have been placed on provider organizations that simply do not impact access or quality. I think sometimes government agencies and payers have lost track of the proverbial Hippocratic Oath: ‘First, do no harm.’ We need to focus first on what matters most. Just look at the suicide and overdose epidemics. When people face long wait times to get into care, if we are being honest, some of that delay is caused by bureaucracy. Lives are at stake, and we need to take a good hard look at how care is being delivered to make sure we remove any obstacles that stand in the way of our number-one job – connecting people with care when they need it.

What do you love most about the work you do? 

I say it every day: I am grateful for the opportunity to help those who help others. When we can help improve the quality of life for clinicians and frontline workers, when we can help them feel good about their job and the people they serve, then I know we’ve made a difference.