Maps has experienced phenomenal growth over the past ten years, tripling in size to become the largest independent provider of outpatient mental health services in the Monadnock Region. Its Peterborough Office, once a small satellite office offering part-time services, is now a growing facility with six (soon to be seven) full-time therapists. Clinicians no longer travel from Keene to meet clients in Peterborough. Instead, each clinic has its own team of clinicians dedicated to the well being of surrounding communities.
While this expansion has allowed Maps to meet more of the region’s ever-growing need for outpatient mental health care, it has made it increasingly difficult for the staff at its two sites to integrate care and communicate as a team. Time is lost having clinicians travel to attend staff meetings and clinical supervision and training. However efficiency and coordination of care is lost if they cannot easily collaborate. Administrative services, based in Keene, are increasingly strained to provide necessary support to the Peterborough clinicians. Improved technology can help alleviate these challenges.
Technology also plays a role in supporting clients. Remote therapy sessions are gradually becoming more routine, especially for clients with physical handicaps that limit their mobility. Telepsychiaty is an up-and-coming resource that promises to bring much needed psychiatric care to undeserved regions like ours. Remote therapy is also helpful for clients who are out of town but need to check in with their therapist. Interactive technology allows for effective remote psychotherapy when appropriate, yet the organization has been limited in its ability to take advantage of these opportunities.
Inter-agency cooperation and coordination of care is the way of the future as we seek to improve efficiency and lower health-care costs. Essential to these efforts is the use of electronic clinical records that allow clients to share their medical information more easily with several providers. Our technology improvements will not only allow us to implement an electronic clinical record, but will also connect our Keene and Peterborough offices with fiber optic cables that allow instantaneous integration of our two sites.
Finally, as Maps continues to add therapists in response to demand, there will also be a need to purchase additional computers and a new server to ensure that every clinician has the technology required to function effectively.
To address these needs, Maps plans to purchase additional computers and a server, increase the speed of our internet connections, and implement interactive technology at both sites. This will enable easy, fast communication and networking of information among staff members. Interactive staff meetings and workshops will be possible using offices at both locations linked through computers and large monitors that offer immediate linkage to data, video-chat technology and video conferencing. Clinical records can instantly be presented for review and financial reports and performance data easily shared with both staff and board. And by ensuring that each clinician has a dedicated high-speed computer, remote sessions with clients can become part of a therapist’s array of options for meeting clients where they are.
The total cost of the interactive staff rooms and new computer equipment is projected to be $30,000.