October 7, 2011 OHA Director's messages on the web
To: All OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

How far are we willing to go?

"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
~ Steve Jobs

In our community meetings around the state, I have been struck by the commitment and enthusiasm so many local providers are bringing to the task of transforming our health system by changing the way they do business. At each meeting, we also discuss the responsibility that all of us who use the health system have to be active participants in our health care plans. At OHA, we know that it is imperative that we do our part to streamline our administrative processes to make the delivery of care easier for those who provide health care services. To that end, there are two important efforts under way to do just that.

Currently mental health providers are required to report many pieces of information about their patients to the Addictions and Mental Health Division. The requirements are set through a variety of state and federal rules. Some of those requirements are both necessary and helpful in keeping patients safe and building accountability into the system. Others may be obsolete, conflict with different rules, or are simply not needed. That's why staff at AMH are reviewing those rules with the assistance of a work group of stakeholders of all kinds to find any and all ways we can streamline those requirements.

This group is combing through the rules line by line and making a recommendation to keep, modify or eliminate each requirement. This project will be completed before the first of the year. But we cannot wait until that review is complete. I have asked AMH to begin eliminating those things we know are unnecessary right now!

Similarly, for many years AMH staff and providers have struggled with a reporting system that is slow, inflexible and notoriously outdated. Oregon's new behavioral health electronic record system is already being piloted by nine providers across the state and is being used by Oregon's Access to Recovery program. The early feedback from these users is that the system is easy to use and that it simplifies billing and reporting. The system will be rolled out statewide in waves over the next two years. The new system will support a more effective and efficient method of contracting for services and managing state resources.

This work is critical as we ask private providers to change the way they do business to bring better health at a more affordable cost. Across the agency we will be looking for similar ways to streamline our work so that we can help providers on the front line better coordinate care.

Here is why this is so important. We are asking a lot of our providers, and we have to be willing to put our own house in order as well. They are looking to us. At our community meeting in Bend last night, I was asked by a provider how far is the state willing to go to break down the red tape and bureaucracy so they can really make coordinated care organizations work?

I said, and I will repeat it here, "we will go as far as it takes, and further."

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