(Courtesy: Metrocare)

Behavioral Health

Metrocare Is Dallas County’s First Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic

The certification standardizes care with crisis coordination, mobile units, and coordination with other providers.

Metrocare Services has been designated a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. The national model creates a standard of care for in need of behavioral healthcare in North Texas.

Metrocare’s certification lines its services up with a federal bill passed in 2014 that sets standards of care for behavioral health. Texas was not one of the states selected to pilot the program but is one of several that have gone ahead to create its certification that mirrors the federal criteria. Metrocare, which is the largest provider of mental health services in North Texas, was the first in Dallas to earn the state certification.

Metrocare established a 24-hour crisis hotline for residents to receive immediate attention. If an escalation is necessary, Metrocare has also launched a mobile crisis intervention team that will travel to where the individual is and provide more care. This may mean assisting with the hospitalization or involving the police, if necessary. In Dallas, the RIGHT care team is a collaboration between Parkland Hospital and the Dallas Police Department to address mental health 911 calls and has already shown signs of impact.

The system has clinics all over the county, meaning they are well-positioned to stabilize patients contacted by the RIGHT care team. “It’s just going to allow kind of a seamless transition of care from crisis to then long term support all of these teams from the crisis team, to the outpatient team to the specialty team,” says Kelli Laos, chief clinical officer of Metrocare.

The company also formalized previously existing relationships with other providers, providing what Laos describes as case management “on steroids.” The goal is to serve as a mental health hub and determine the services an individual may need, coordinating between different providers like Parkland Hospital, Dallas County jail, or a residential treatment center to provide quality and efficient care. “We encounter a lot of individuals who have burned a lot of bridges and may have hurt a lot of their family relationships and don’t have a strong support system really outside of Metrocare. The care coordination piece is really going to allow us to refocus efforts on building those natural supports so that someone can be successful within their community.”

The certification also provides incentives for future contracts and moves the care to aa value-based model that incentivizes efficient care and keeping people away from expensive treatments and interventions. One piece of efficiency is the transition liaison, which helps track patients as they transition between care levels. Individuals are often lost between facilities or providers. They end up missing their medication or other follow-up visits, and when their condition deteriorates, they end up back in the hospital, while society picks up the bill. “Their sole job is to make sure that they’re aware of people who are discharged from higher levels of care entering our system. And then making sure that transition goes as smoothly as possible,” Laos says.

The certification moves Dallas into a network of providers across the country with standardized practices and care strategies. It will allow Dallas to contribute to outcome-based reporting of care to make sure that the criteria impact patients and healthcare costs in a positive way for different regions, cultures, and populations.

“The people of Dallas County will be able to receive a depth and breadth of services through this program that they have heretofore not been able to realize. The model has shown success in reducing hospitalizations but also improving quality of life for people who are subject to this kind of treatment,” Metrocare CEO Dr. John Burruss says.

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