support national and state mental health initiatives through
evidence-based treatments. The Experience of Care and Health
Outcomes Survey (ECHO) and National Inventory of Mental
Health Quality Measures are available to measure the improvements in mental and behavioral health, according to the Agency
for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Separate surveys have been developed that address the unique
needs of children. ECHO surveys are used to compare managed
care organization (MCO) performances across plans. The child
measures assess consumer experience with behavioral health,
including those with special needs related to emotional illness,
substance abuse, family problems, and developmental conditions. Identifying issues with children and adolescents through
screenings and referrals to mental health services are essential
for improved services and outcomes.
Value-based reimbursements are utilizing measures to incen-tivize providers to improve patient outcomes. For example, the
Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set for antidepressant medication management (AMM) is a performance-based
measure that provides an opportunity for improvement in depression care by monitoring adherence, according to AHRQ. The ability to connect quality measures to clinical strategies is critical for
achieving successful depression treatment outcomes.
AMM measure gaps offer an opportunity for patient-centered
care teams to communicate with patients regarding barriers
and behavior. Clinical discussions may include duration and
side effects of medication to better improve adherence and
outcomes. To drive the mental health quality improvement, a
roadmap or framework is an essential tool that should include
data interchange between health plans and behavioral health
organizations. Data exchange helps to support clinical, quality,
and patient experience measurements, thereby contributing to
enhanced mental health outcomes.
Access Difficulties in Rural Communities
According to recent studies, an estimated 18. 7 percent of residents in rural counties have a mental disorder, according to the
Rural Health Information Hub. Compounding the need for mental health services, there is a corresponding shortage of mental
health professionals in rural areas, leaving mental and behavioral
health patients with little or no choices for science-based mental
health services. Where care is available, patients can face higher
costs for services. The use of data and trends can provide evidence of need and scientific support for rural mental health services. Providers, MCOs, and government agencies are struggling
to find efficient ways to improve access in rural areas, according
to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Understanding rural populations by using data analytics can
help organizations develop strategies aimed at availability, accessibility, affordability, and acceptability.
Geoplotting—using a geographic chart to visualize data—can
help efficiently map clinical needs and organize provider travel
to rural communities. The use of telemedicine may help to re-
duce the cost of mental health services by making it more af-
fordable. Furthermore, telemedicine can be an effective method
of delivering mental healthcare, which offers an alternative to
patients who may feel the stigma and embarrassment of mental
health sessions, which is often a barrier in rural communities.
Today, one of the driving strategies being used by organizations is coordinating services across the health and social system by integrating mental health with primary care. Assessing
the ratio of the rural population to primary care and the ratio of
the rural population to the number of mental health providers
can help identify gaps that impact the ability to efficiently and
effectively coordinate services.
Leveraging Analytics as a Tool
The use of analytics for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery is increasing in popularity across the
healthcare field. With the current spotlight on the need to improve mental healthcare delivery, analytics are an important
tool. Analytics can help address current prevalent issues, such
as the opioid epidemic, enhance the quality of services, and address access problems in rural areas. ¢
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Mental Health
Quality Measures: Child Health Care Quality Toolbox.”
November 2017. www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/chtoolbx/measures/
American Psychological Association. “Addressing the Mental
and Behavioral Health Needs of Underserved Populations.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDC Awards
$28.6 million to help States Fight Opioid Overdose Epidemic.”
September 5, 2017. www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0905-
Department of Health and Human Services. “5-Point Strategy
to Combat the Opioid Crisis.” August 7, 2018. www.hhs.gov/
National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Mental Health By The
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.”
March 2018. www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/
Rural Health Information Hub. “Rural Mental Health.” November 5,
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“SAMHSA Strategic Plan – FY2019-FY2023.” November 2,
Lesley Clack ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an assistant professor at the University
of Georgia. Jacqueline Woeppel ( email@example.com) is an epidemiologist
at Tenn Care Pharmacy Division and an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston.