In honor of Star Wars Day, CCNY spoke to Erie County’s Director of Intensive Adult Mental Health Services to discuss how we helped them harness the Force of evaluation and QI.  Thanks to Ronald Schoelerman for chatting with us!

1.  How did you first come to work with CCNY?

Erie County Forensic Mental Health (ECFMH) and CCNY partnered through efforts to enhance mental health documentation and in order to establish an Electronic Record of services provided to individuals incarcerated in the Erie County correctional system and receiving mental health services.

2.  What does your organization do and how did CCNY’s work help improve those services?

ECFMH provides mental health services to Criminal Justice Mental Health (CJMH) clientele within the Erie County Sheriff correctional settings.  This includes various levels of referrals, levels of care, and ongoing service delivery, including:

  • Mental Health Assessment
  • Comprehensive Suicidal Risk Assessments
  • Mental Health medication and prescribing
  • Treatment planning
  • Discharge Planning

The collaborative efforts of CCNY and ECFMH assist in the ongoing QA/QI and continued growth in providing necessary services.

3.  What do Evaluation and Quality Improvement mean to you?

As the Director of ECFMH, it is essential that an effective Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement (QA/QI) process be in place.  This permits assessment of program procedures, quality delivery of services, program and staff development, as well as assist in the identification of interventions, service needs, and areas for improvement.  The collaborative efforts with CCNY have assisted to implement consistent and targeted monthly reporting that serves short and long term QA/QI goals.

4.  What were your goals going into this project?  Did you have a clear/ strong sense of what needed to be done?

ECFMH and CCNY are engaged a few projects that include:

  • Interaction and liaison with the current EMR provider (Centricity/Fusion) in order to obtain and collect data for reporting, as well as ensure that ECFMH is able to reach a maximum benefit through use of the EMR
  • Targeting new documentation and assessment tools within the EMR – and development of planned QA/QI and research related data

– Texas Christian University Drug Screening V – implemented fall 2016 – and targeted for enhanced QA/QI reporting and data collection efforts that will incorporate data from other documents for correlations and improved understanding of substance use within our service population – Current project

– Electronic Discharge Planning Document – implemented January 2018 – and targeted for enhanced QA/QI reporting and data collection efforts that will incorporate data from other documents for correlations and improved understanding of discharge planning needs within our service population – Current project

  • Electronic Training Databases and Tools

– Provide a formalized computer/program based training surrounding the ECFMH Manual and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that will permit:

* Consistent and clear training mechanism for new staff, interns, and residents

* A measurable outcome for individuals trained that will further identify and assist in areas for additional efforts and training when needed

* Remedial training opportunity when/if a circumstance demonstrates a potential need for specific re-education surrounding on SOP

* Potential for mandated annual refreshers that can be provided as evidence of ongoing staff development/ training

* Potential expanded efforts for trainings into target areas that will benefit ECFMH and ECFMH clientele (i.e. Mental Status Exam, Clinical Interviewing)

  • Semiannual Reporting – related to qualitative and quantitative reviews of various levels of care within the ECFMH service delivery

5.  How does your role fit into the grander scheme of data collection, reporting, and evaluation at Erie County FMH?

It is essential that ECFMH continue to develop in data collection, reporting, and effective QA/QI evaluation that will permit clear evidence of service delivery and program needs.  Evidence and data provide justifications and support for grants, funding, and potential resources.  It also will permit a targeted and proactive use of any supports, grants, and funding that is based on evidence of that area of need that is necessary as a public service/program that is appropriately accountable to Erie County residents.

6.  What was your experience with data collection, reporting, and evaluation before working with CCNY and how has it changed since, if at all?

I have always strived at data collection, QA/QI efforts, and proactive approaches based on data driven activity in order to assess and modify my work.  I have experience in using data in various other work experiences that did not involve mental health, and brought that with me as I moved into mental health and my current position with ECFMH.  I appreciate how CCNY can and assisted in problem solving, data collection, and working toward finished products that assist meeting mental health needs of the ECFMH staff and Clientele.

7.  What would you recommend to a healthcare organization dealing with governmental oversight before diving into this sort of undertaking, either in terms of preparation, setting expectations, or infrastructural requirements?

I would recommend that an organization should work with their team and an agency, such as CCNY, to clearly identify short and long term goals, as well as embrace that the reporting and QA/QI process is all about finding your problem areas and that finding them is a Positive, as long as the goals include continued monitoring and efforts to improve aspects of the program throughout the process.  I feel that CCNY has provided individuals that understand that although the process can be difficult at times, it is not adversarial.  The process requires some essential “pushing and pulling” to challenge results and enhance reporting, so let the data guide you toward end goals of improved service delivery.