Joyce Kelty, Executive Director of Behavioral Information Systems, LLC, has seen major changes in the behavioral health landscape as she helps agencies meet the challenges presented and provide best practices services to their clients.
Our staff wanted to share Joyce’s perspective on the future of behavioral health, at least the near term, and asked for her thoughts. Please see her answers below to some of the most pressing questions facing behavioral health agencies looking forward to 2021 and beyond.
What do you see as the biggest challenge/opportunity for behavioral health due to COVID-19?
- Joyce Kelty: The biggest challenge has been keeping clients and staff safe and healthy while continuing best practices treatment. Behavioral Health agencies have had to quickly pivot in how they serve their clients. Working remotely has been a great opportunity for the development of telehealth. As we move forward under this pandemic and see how COVID-19 has impacted people medically, socially, and financially, challenges remain as agencies strive to help the increasing number of people experiencing mental health issues.
What do you foresee as a major advancement in behavioral health in 2021?
- Joyce Kelty: 2021 will be a continuation of the pivot in 2020 – telehealth will solidify and will no longer be an add-on but a strategic component for all Behavioral Health agencies. Remote work in general will require changes in processes and workflow, including making sure staff can remotely access the Electronic Health Record. There will also be legislation at both the state and federal levels that will need to be monitored for their impact on agencies.
What are your learnings so far from COVID-19 this year? How are your customers surviving/thriving under these circumstances?
- Joyce Kelty: COVID-19 hit us as an industry essentially in the second half of our fiscal year – many behavioral health agencies operate on a fiscal year ending June 30th. The industry successfully pivoted to working with clients remotely and changing the procedures and protocols for their work efforts in house as well. All in all the agencies have done very well. We always knew how resilient and capable the behavioral health agencies are –they rose to the occasion during this crisis.
How did you get your start in behavioral health? What’s your background?
- Joyce Kelty: I began in finance and information technology in the insurance and manufacturing industries but have been in the behavioral health field for many years. Starting in a Community Mental Health Center, I was able to work with finance, operations, and clinical staff to gain a 360 degree view of the industry, and learn electronic health records from the ground up. This gave me the opportunity to consult on electronic health record selection, implementation, and optimization for behavioral health agencies. I have been Executive Director of Behavioral Information Systems since 2014.
What’s your favorite part about being a consultant?
- Joyce Kelty: I enjoy helping agencies solve problems. We work with electronic health records – discovering the true problem or need, identifying the desired outcome then implementing or optimizing an EHR to get positive results. My favorite part of consulting to behavioral health agencies in particular is that every person in the agency, from the front desk to the CEO, is focused on providing excellent care to the clients they serve. It’s truly a humbling experience.
When you first speak to an agency about their electronic record needs – what are the most important things to ask?
- Joyce Kelty: We first take an assessment of their needs across the agency and really understand the current state – looking at not just the EHR but also the processes and procedures surrounding the EHR. It is also critical to look at where the agency wants to be in the future – what are the growth areas and future requirements that an EHR must handle, such as interoperability.
Your work as a consultant takes you to many different states — how are behavioral health agencies handling the COVID-19 crisis by state?
- Joyce Kelty: While each state has differences in how they are handling COVID-19 basics such as the number of people allowed in a space and the mandatory versus optional wearing of masks, behavioral health clinics are operating with a safety-first approach. Regardless of state differences, keeping clients and staff COVID-19 free, while continuing to provide best practices in healthcare, is the highest priority.
Is there anything you would like to say in closing?
- Joyce Kelty: I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet so many talented, dedicated, and hard-working agency staff. As consultants, our job is to make it easier for them to better serve their clients, which may mean improving clinical workflow, developing outcomes reporting, increasing revenue flow, or meeting state or federal regulations. I consider myself lucky to have landed in this position.