Collaboration in Behavioral Healthcare: An Interview with Lisette Wright

bhs_logoYou hear through the grapevine about great people doing incredible work in Behavioral Health. People with civic-minded spirit and determined to make invaluable contributions to this sector of healthcare. People like Lisette Wright.

We were introduced to Lisette by her colleague Dr. Marlene Maheu and honored to be introduced. Of course we had to interview her for Mental Health News Radio! It was refreshing and affirming to talk to a true collaborator. We know who to bring in that will get into the specifics of ICD-10, Meaningful Use, PQRS, and large scale EHR implementations.  Join us for an informative discussion about what Behavioral Health providers and agencies are NOT taking seriously and should.

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What is Behavioral Health Solutions?

BHS is an information technology consulting company founded by a psychologist that provides services exclusively to behavioral health and substance use organizations. Our focus is helping organizations adopt, implement, and leverage technology to improve service delivery and consumer outcomes. We are also committed to helping behavioral health organizations stay viable and profitable during these difficult times of health care reform. Learning new ways of doing business is hard and many provider organizations are struggling with the ACA’s health care payment reform initiative’s.

How did you get into this work and why?

Lisette was a practicing psychologist for the first 15 years of her career. She then went back to school and obtained a certificate in Health Information Technology from the Office of the National Coordinator. This was in 2009-2010 and she has been involved in the Health Information Technology consulting industry since then. Recognizing that the surge of technology in the healthcare industry, Lisette recognized human services reluctance to embrace clinical utilization of technology. She felt that if she could demonstrate how cool technology is and how it can be used to improve outcomes and care delivery, then more organizations would be open to this change.

While initially beginning with Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, Lisette’s clients soon realized she was adept at speaking about health care reform initiatives and asked for her strategic guidance in staying abreast and ahead in health care reform. Her broad knowledge has helped behavioral health and substance use organizations with just some the following items: coding and documentation, compliance initiatives, Meaningful Use, PQRS program, the ICD-10 transition, EHR Selections and Implementations, and of course, organization-wide IT Assessments to improve technology utilization through an entire organization.

LWrightQuoteWhat are the main activities of BHS?

BHS spends it’s time providing project management and technical assistance to client organizations in the variety of areas mentioned above. While based in Minneapolis, MN much of BHS’s work is on a national-level and can be performed remotely. In addition to the above activities, BHS has been the front-leader in helping organizations transition to the new ICD-10 CM codeset by training close to 12K clinicians nationally in the published, highly regarded “ICD-10/DSM-5 Coding, Documentation, and Clinical Diagnostic Criteria Training©.” It is an extensive training curriculum for administrators, clinicians, coders, and MD’s in the health and human service industry who need to know about the requirements of the ICD-10 and the DSM-5. The curriculum fully prepares trainees to be completely compliant with all the new compliance and regulatory requirements that the ICD-10 brings.

What types of clients have you worked with and can you describe some of your projects to date?

A typical client is a behavioral health or substance use organization with a variety of service lines: inpatient, outpatient, day treatment, residential, medication management, etc. So, organizations, EHR vendors, publishing companies, and other private parties involved in the health and human service industry are typical clients of BHS. BHS is also active in the speakers circuit and does a fair amount of public presentations and education on a variety of topics.

Three examples of projects to date include:

  • A mid-sized community behavioral health center retained BHS to provide assistance in setting up their EHR’s Meaningful Use program. BHS provided initial assessments and training to the organization and their eligible providers. BHS then assisted the organization in proceeding through the registration process. An assessment of which measures would be best tracked, interpretation of the CMS regulations to be compliant with program participation, and how to best engage the Eligible Providers was the focus of the contract. Concurrent to this project, BHS was asked to lead the organizations ICD-10 transition which began two years prior to October 1, 2015 and to also advise on how the PQRS program and other health care reform changes would affect the clorganization.
  • Behavioral Health EHR vendors have retained BHS to provide SME on End User friendliness and improvements, make recommendations for changes, and to verify the ICD-10 codes have been established in the system so as to best assist customers. BHS has also provided EHR vendors with industry market trends and health care reform initiative education so that vendors could enhance their products to better meet customer needs
  • A large, private, behavioral healthcare corporation retained BHS to lead the clinical training, awareness training, and program roll-out of their ICD-10 transition. This extended to not just the 3 free-standing facilities the corporation ran, but also to 65 Program Directors across the country embedded in acute care hospital settings.

Why do you think change is so hard for some of your customers?

The “old guard” is hard to change. So many provider organizations are overwhelmed with change, regulatory requirements, and struggles due to finances that tending to the “crisis-of-the-day” is all they can really manage. Staying ahead, being proactive, and even getting to the point of true innovation takes a lot of time, commitment, and energy. It also sometimes takes an outside with positive energy and optimism to lead the charge. Too many times keeping your head above water is the best one can do. Not to mention that change, especially radical innovative change, is enormously scary, uncertain, and is perceived as too risky.

What does health care reform have to do with your approach to organizations?

The phrase, “Innovate or Die” could not be more true than it is right now. With health care reform that is long overdue, we must become a true partner and player in keeping clients healthy. This involves not just addressing their mental health needs, but all other needs such as housing, employment, physical health, and other variables. Behavioral health has been the step-child too long in healthcare. Our counterparts in medicine are realizing they too will get paid for keeping clients well, they are finally embracing our role in integrated, whole-person care delivery. Learning how to strategically align with those in the medical industry, and partner with them, is part of the consultation that BHS provides to clients.

Do you do anything for fun?

Being self-employed since 2001, I have had to learn how to balance the work-life load. Particularly with the huge ICD-10 transition, that has been more challenging this past year with frequent travels across the country that sometimes cut into my personal life. For fun, I am active in my 501c3 project, the Kisangaji Project, which is a endeavor to help support the infrastructure, education, and healthcare needs of a small remote village in Tanzania. I also enjoy spending time outdoors as Minneapolis has a great Parks and Recreation facilities. And, I love to read.

How did the Kisangaji Project come about?

LisetteWrightTanzaniaI delivered school desks to the primary school which has badly in need of supplies. Kisangaji has no running water or electricity, and at the time received little outside assistance. I was so moved by this experiencethat I returned to the US and started the non-profit organization. Since then, I have returned 1-2/times year, and provided Kisangaji with: textbooks, school desks, sports equipment, teacher supplies, construction of 4 water pumps to alleviate the drinking of river water, construction of a staff house for new teachers, and most recently, construction of a house for a village doctor and classroom. I have established a good working relationship with the village Councils as well as the District government. I am proud to say the quality of life for the residents of Kisangaji has improved over time!

Do you fundraise for Kisangaji?logo-header

Being self-employed, most of my time is devoted to my work. Therefore, while I do get some small donations for the project, the majority of funding has come out of my own pocket. And that feels great!

What is important to know about you or BHS?

BHS was started by, and is for, those working in the health and human service industry. Our goal is help both providers and clients achieve their high aspirations and best potential. BHS has a long list of references that speaks to their ability to produce results, provide concrete and tangible “next steps” for organizations, and is well-known for their comprehensive and thorough consultation to  clients. BHS is a forward-thinking and innovative organization. I am fortunate and proud to have a team of researchers and collaborators who are incredibly smart, detailed, energetic, and just as passionate about the work as I am!


LWPicLisette Wright, M.A., Licensed Psychologist has over 20 years of experience in the health and human service industry. She currently works exclusively in the Health Information Technology sector helping organizations with EHR selections and complex implementations, system administration, ICD-10/DSM-5 transitions, coding and revenue cycle management, coding and documentation compliance programs, Meaningful Use, strategic planning, and IT Assessments and Roadmaps. Educating the industry on Health Care Reform initiatives is also a part of her work. She is the author of the one-of-a-kind teaching curriculum titled: “ICD-10 and DSM-5: Coding, Documentation and Clinical Diagnostic Criteria”© that focuses on helping coders, administrators and clinicians understand the requirements of the code sets and the CMS regulations for ICD-10 compliance.

Website for Behavioral Health Solutions: www.behavioralhealthsolutionsmn.com

Email: lwright@behavioralhealthsolutionsmn.com

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