Changing the Landscape of Behavioral Health Technology: Next Step Solutions Inc.

Mental Health News Radio is always on the hunt for innovative technology that aids our Behavioral Health providers.  Our article on Spiritually Integrated Therapy was found by Next Step Solutions, Inc. After reading our other articles on why we care so much about this sector of healthcare, Next Step picked up the phone and made a connection with our CEO, Kristin Walker.

A visit to their corporate office in Michigan last year was yet another stop on our 2014 journey across the United States visiting EHR vendors and Behavioral Health practices.  Kristin had the opportunity to meet everyone on the team and see what a software organization does that is heavy on development and light on marketing agendas.  It was certainly a pleasure.

NextStep™ has developed a digital pen system and embedded artificial intelligence into their EHR.  Sounds unbelievable right?  A science fiction movie, maybe?  We saw it action at their office and while we visited several of their clients.  NextStep™ has clients across the United States using their award-winning software for behavioral health private practices, research clinics, residential programs, outpatient agencies and state hospitals.  It was a pleasure to sit down with Dr. Darrin Hanna and David Ballenberger, MSW to discuss their product, their organization, and what the future holds for behavioral health technology.



The bio for Dr. Darrin Hanna is about eighteen pages long. We’ll try to encapsulate it here with links to his full biography.  Both Dr. Hanna and his business partner, David Ballenberger, meet our criteria as founding members of an EHR company: the drum we beat about the founding members having relevance in behavioral health technology.

darrin_hanna (1)

Darrin M. Hanna is Assistant Professor of Engineering in Oakland University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science.  Dr. Hanna received his Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Oakland University in May 2003 after receiving the university’s three top awards in scholarship, mathematics and engineering.  His roots in teaching started from being a supplemental instructor during his undergraduate studies.  Throughout his graduate studies, Dr. Hanna taught and created many courses and interactive laboratories as Lecturer and Visiting Instructor of Engineering.  His research interests include reconfigurable embedded systems, artificial intelligence, and problem-based learning in computer science and engineering.  His work in the classroom emphasizes creating a curriculum, environment, and teaching approach where students engage in different types of problem-based learning.  This has proven successful in undergraduate and graduate courses, both small and large.  Dr. Hanna continuously incorporates ideas garnered from state-of-the-art research and advanced techniques used in the workplace into course materials.  Dr. Hanna is also coauthor of a new series of textbooks and textbook supplements called Learning By Example.

Complementary to his coursework, he examines new methods for automatically gen-erating high-speed, low-power embedded systems and clinical methods for advancing evidence-based practice.  Dr. Hanna has also successfully transferred research into commercial applications, winning the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Commercialization Success Award.  His clinical methods and applications are currently used to improve care for thousands of patients nationwide.  He has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses in engineering problem-solving, microprocessors, reconfigurable embedded systems, and digital design using VHDL.  A member of IEEE and ASEE, Dr. Hanna actively contributes to the teacher-scholar community, winning the ASEE North Central Section’s best paper awards for three consecutive years.

He is the creator/developer of NextStep, a successful commercial off-the-shelf electronic medical records system.  This comprehensive patient care and billing administrative program encompasses an expansive suite of web-based products (NextStep Practice Pro, NextStep MS, and NextStep PHM) intended for private practices, residential service providers and hospitals.  All are full-featured intuitive Web-based patient management information systems specifically designed by behavioral experts to accelerate the process of documenting and evaluating client treatments.  Full Biography.

David E. Ballenberger, M.S.W., has thirty-four years experience gained in various social work capacities from direct care and counseling toDBallenberger administration, with emphasis on behavioral treatment program development. Mr. Ballenberger has held a variety of senior leadership positions throughout his career serving adults, families, and children through residential, outpatient, and community support programs at organizations including Rose Hill Center, Camp Oakland Youth Programs, Rubicon Odyssey, and Boysville of Michigan.

During his successful career, he provided direct care of delinquent, neglected, and abused adolescents; operated an adolescent substance abuse program; directed outdoor education, independent living, group homes, family counseling, aftercare, and school social work programs. This includes designing programs in independent living preparation; supervising independent living, day treatment, short-term residential care, and aftercare; developing the first group home program in the State of Indiana; managing transition from public agency to private non-profit status; and designing early intervention programs.

A noted expert in developing and implementing programs, he has used and developed tech-nology for staff training, program management, and streamlined evidence-based practice and accreditation compliance processes. Mr. Ballenberger also serves on the Boards of Directors of Mental Illness Research Association (MIRA) and the Mental Health Association of Michigan.  Additionally, he is an active member of other organizations including NAMI, the Michigan Federation of Private Child and Family Agencies, the Michigan Alliance of Children’s Agencies, and the Michigan League of Human Services.

Currently, Mr. Ballenberger serves as President of NextStep Solutions, Inc. He oversees all operations including product design, implementation, marketing and sales.  This includes pro-moting the newest suite of web-based products (NextStep Practice Pro, NextStep MS, and NextStep PHM) intended for private practices, residential service providers, and hospitals.  All are full-featured, intuitive, and Web-based patient management information systems specifically designed by behavioral experts to accelerate the process of documenting and evaluating client treatments.  Full Biography.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen − seventeen =