Behavioral Health Outcome Dashboards Really Taking Off

July 18th, 2011 by admin No comments »

One of our primary objectives over the last couple of years in behavioral health has been to shift the focus of our performance measures away from process and procedures toward actual outcomes.  In other words, we don’t want to measure our success on whether someone’s paperwork is right, but on whether the services we provide actually help folks achieve their recovery goals.  That’s why it’s so exciting to see the system continue to develop easy-to-use behavioral health outcomes dashboards as a new performance tool and to inform consumer choice.

 Outcome Dashboards are like a scorecard- allowing users to review performance and outcomes information (employment, housing, staying out of crisis centers, abstaining from substance abuse, avoiding arrests, etc.) at the statewide level, as well as by region of the state and separately for adults and children. Links are also included so the user can then visit dashboards developed by each Regional Behavioral Health Authority, where provider-level performance can be reviewed.

 By working closely with our behavioral health contractors we’ve been able to make some significant improvements in the quality of care that we’re providing.  Examples of our accomplishments are available in outcome dashboards developed by CPSA, NARBHACenpatico and Magellan.  The dashboards provide monthly reports using web-based tools, are accessible to anyone and highlight indicators of quality of care for recipients and their families that they can use for consumer choice.

 A couple of weeks ago Magellan Health Services of Arizona launched a new adult general mental health and substance abuse provider outcomes dashboard. This new dashboard provides important performance information throughout the system of care- and is a significant enhancement of the outcome dashboard that they created for adults and kids with serious mental illnesses.  The new dashboard for general mental health and substance abuse contains 14 key indicators under the following four outcomes areas: clinical, coordination, recovery and accountability. The dashboard can be reviewed from various perspectives.  Check out Magellan’s new general mental health and substance abuse dashboard at

Step Up to the Plate

July 15th, 2011 by admin No comments »

It’s time to step up to the plate if you’re interested in providing clear and concise information about how best to integrate primary and acute healthcare with behavioral health care for folks with serious mental illnesses in Arizona.  One of our top priorities in behavioral health over the coming years will be to better integrate physical health and mental health/substance abuse services in Arizona.  Why is this a priority you ask?  It’s because folks with the most serious mental illnesses die at least 25-30 years earlier than the average Arizonan.  Physical and mental illnesses are often linked- and when left untreated, folks can experience lost productivity, unsuccessful relationships, significant distress and dysfunction; it can also affect how well they care for their kids.  You can check out several recent blog posts on this topic for more information about where we’ve been and where we’re going.

 One of the ideas that our interagency integration steering committee has been exploring over the last several weeks is shifting to a service model that includes contracting with managed care organization(s) to serve as a Specialty Regional Behavioral Health Authority that would also include a health home for folks with serious mental illness.  The initial idea includes the potential for moving ahead with this new model as we implement the next major behavioral health contract in Maricopa County beginning October 1, 2013.

 The team is inviting interested folks and organizations to provide concise input over the next few weeks by replying to our newly released Request for Information.  In addition, our team has put together a nifty integration website that provides a cornucopia of data and information about integrating primary and acute healthcare with behavioral health care.  On the main page, you can click on the icon for the Specialty RBHA and follow along as work continues on the health home planning grant and the research into a Specialty RBHA.  Additional Stakeholder input will be getting underway in the coming weeks and months as well.

Incident Command Training

July 15th, 2011 by admin No comments »


With all the fire response activity this week- I thought I’d do a piece on the framework that we’re all using for our response activities.  We use the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to guide and organize all of our responses because it provides a systematic, proactive structure with which to organize response activities.  Many of you have taken the NIMS courses- but I’m pretty sure many of you haven’t. The introductory course is called IS-700.  This course is provides an introduction to NIMS components, concepts and principles. It’s a very good overview course for political and government leaders, agency and organization administrators and department heads.  There are also a series of new, more specialized, follow-up courses including the basic IS-100.b which introduces Incident Command; IS-100.HCb Incident Command for Healthcare Facilities; IS-100.HE for Higher Education; and IS-100.SCa for Schools.  All these courses are on-line and free- and are a very good telework activity.

“Raise Your Voice!” Report

July 15th, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Our behavioral health coalition completed and published our brand-new Raise Your Voice! Report… a product of our behavioral health focus groups with peers and family members in late 2010.  We’re most proud of the fact that the entire process—from beginning to end—had the full participation or peers and family members (from the Arizona Peer and Family Coalition) in planning, organizing, leading and monitoring—making the result a true reflection of their voice.  The Coalition finalized and approved the report yesterday.

 Our behavioral health system transformation team sponsored the series of forums so that folks can express their opinions about how we should shape the future of the behavioral health system in Arizona. The forums actively involved the community through a series of focus groups that gathered the collective opinion of members on what they want and need from the behavioral health system.  The team used an evidence-based practice called Community Based Participatory Research- which is used in public health research to engage the community in designing programs that are responsive to the public’s needs.

 The first 13 pages of the report provide an easy-to-read summary of the findings. More detail is contained in the attachments to the report including the data and analysis for each question asked in the focus groups. The categories described on the charts are specifically defined for each question using the actual words and phrases spoken and written down in the focus groups.

 We’ll continue to partner with our peer and family run organizations to bring the peer and family voice into the system. This is especially critical as we continue our work to transform Arizona’s publically funded behavioral health care service delivery system.

ADHS Asks AZ Attorney General’s Office to Review the Legality of “Cannabis Clubs”

July 14th, 2011 by admin 15 comments »

The Arizona Department of Health Services has serious concerns about the legality of so-called cannabis clubs. The information that we have regarding these “clubs” suggests that they are distributing marijuana to customers in a way that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and the persons involved could be conducting illegal marijuana transactions.  For this reason, we have referred this issue to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for review and analysis by its civil and criminal divisions.

What about this new Fad Diet?

July 14th, 2011 by admin 10 comments »

Recently, the department has received numerous inquiries about fad diets: Do they work? Are they safe? Will they help me lose weight?  Our nutrition department put together a couple of tips to watch out for when it comes to dieting.

 1)      Promotes a drastic weight loss in a short period of time. Losing more than two pounds per week can lead to muscle loss and slow down your metabolism. People who lose weight slowly and gradually are more likely to keep off the pounds because they lost fat, not muscle.

2)      Recommends 1,000 calories or less each day. Generally speaking, most people need between 1600 to 2400 calories per day depending on age, gender, and activity level.  Consuming too little can slow down your metabolism making it difficult to lose weight. To find out how many calories you need each day to reach and maintain a healthy weight visit My Pyramid Menu Planner.

 Moral of the story: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The best way to reach and maintain a healthy weight is to lose gradually by balancing what you eat with how you move. Be active and eat your fruits and veggies! Visit our Nutrition Network to get more tips on eating healthy.

Public Health Law Resources

July 13th, 2011 by admin No comments »

Public health and the law are intertwined- and you can’t really be effective at developing public health policies and interventions without understanding how the law interfaces with public health.  We’re fortunate to have a fantastic local resource right here in Arizona.  The Public Health Law and Policy Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Center for Law, Science & Innovation brings together scholars, practitioners, students, and others to focus on critical issues at the intersection of law, ethics, and the public’s health. They have a diverse group of faculty, scholars, fellows, and collaborative partners. 

 They leverage funds from the HHS and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to: 1) Conduct legal research and analysis in targeted areas relevant to public health through core projects on select public health law topics; 2) Work with international, federal, state, tribal, and local public health leaders to provide technical assistance on public health law and policy issues; 3) Develop innovative public health law tools and training/education materials; 4) Serve as an interactive resource for practical and scholarly information on public health law and ethics; and 5) Develop practice-based resources and other tools in public health preparedness and other topics. 

They’re putting together an October 6 event at ASU that will bring together leading public health officials, attorneys and practitioners across the 11 states of the Western Region of the Public Health Law Network to examine and discuss areas of law and policy.  Participants will have opportunities to provide their input on key public health law topics, build partnerships among colleagues across states and learn about core areas of legal technical assistance capacity.  You can check out more at their registration website.

The University of Washington has also posted an online training module on Practical Law for Public Health Officials. The objectives of this module include: recognizing legal issues; implementing effective strategies for working with legal counsel; and identifying key public health laws that govern leadership’s responsibilities, authority, and limitations. Click here to access the module.

Finally, the CDC has recently revamped their public health law resource website.  The site includes a variety of helpful public health law resources including opinions and statutes other states have provided or implemented.   The CDC Public Health Law News is another monthly e-mail digest of current, worldwide news stories, court opinions, announcements and special features related to public health law and legislation. The News is free and available to anyone with an interest in public health law.

Abortion Clinic Licensing

July 13th, 2011 by admin No comments »

A new law was passed last legislative session (HB 2416) that expanded the definition of an abortion to include “any means” (the former definition was limited to surgical abortions) and changed the qualifications for who can perform the procedure.  For us, it meant that beginning July 21 (when the law was to take effect) we’d be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new provisions (including licensing an additional 12 or so abortion clinics).  We already license them; outpatient treatment clinics- so our job would be to ensure that they also comply with our abortion clinic rules.  However, earlier this year Planned Parenthood of AZ challenged some aspects of the new law-and at a hearing this week a judge held up the implementation of the new law pending an August 22nd hearing.

Border Health Partnerships

July 12th, 2011 by admin No comments »

A few weeks ago I blogged about the June plenary session of the Arizona Mexico Commission called Arizona & Sonora: Gateway for Innovation.  The conference provided an opportunity to move forward a bi-national agenda supported by Arizona and Sonora.  The health committee discussed regional approaches to valley fever surveillance, burn patient infrastructure, substance abuse, TB, border first aid services and Sonora’s upcoming efforts to provide licensing and quality assurance services for assisted living in Sonora (and how we can partner with them as they set up their program).

 A couple of weeks ago I was in Washington DC working on another border partnership called the US-Mexico Border Health Commission.  The Commission was created in July 2000 and is comprised of the federal secretaries of health, the health officers of the 10 border states and appointed community health professionals from both nations. The Commission provides a unique opportunity to bring together the two countries and its border states to solve border health problems.

 Each year the Commission establishes strategic objectives.  This year’s priority areas include TB, physical activity and nutrition, infectious disease and public health emergencies, access to care, data collection, and academic alliances.  We develop action items for each of the strategic objectives.  Through the Commission, each of our border states are able to directly communicate with our respective federal agencies so that we can better align federal priorities with our border strategic objectives.  A couple of weeks ago we were able to meet with several sub-cabinet agency decision-makers as well as several members of the House of Representatives and made real progress toward synchronizing federal policy with our strategic objectives for the border.

Behavioral Health Integration Progressing

July 12th, 2011 by admin 2 comments »

You’ll remember that ADHS and AHCCCS jointly applied for and received a $750K Planning Grant to explore integrating primary health care and behavioral health care- especially for folks with serious mental illnesses.  Our teams have been very busy over the last couple of weeks getting the initiative underway.  One of the concepts we’re exploring is a specialty Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) containing a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Health Home. 

 Our Interagency Steering Committee is exploring the feasibility of contracting with managed care organization(s) to serve as a Specialty RBHA with SMI Health Homes in Maricopa County beginning October 1, 2013. The team has been working hard on a Request for Information (RFI) that we expect to release in the very near future to help us with our planning.  Meanwhile, our IT web design folks have been putting together a new website that should be ready to roll out next week.  Additional Stakeholder input will be getting underway in the coming weeks and months as well.  Stay tuned!