How a healthcare system shifted 85% of its services to telehealth


Preferred Behavioral Health Group, based in Lakewood, New Jersey, is a multi-site ambulatory behavioral health organization that provides adult mental health services, youth and family services, and addiction services. Its mission is to provide quality, compassionate behavioral health services to individuals and families through a philosophy and approach to trauma-informed care.

PBHG’s vision is to be a center of excellence focused on innovative and integrated wellness through compassionate care, and its promise is to change lives and save lives through a strengths-based approach, by partnering with individuals to help them realize their full potential and improve their quality. of life.

The group has provided service to over 30,000 customers operating the majority of services in Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey. PBHG employs over 450 certified and professional employees.

Firm state

On March 16, 2020, New Jersey was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. PBHG was facing not only the pandemic, but also how it would continue to provide healthcare services to its clients without having the opportunity to meet face to face.

New Jersey at that time did not allow telehealth services for health care. State and federal governments have approved telehealth services due to the pandemic, and PBHG has responded quickly, led by its director of management information systems, Jenni Pollen.

She assembled a team of people from the areas of billing, corporate compliance and clinical services to revamp the electronic health record system, Qualifacts, to be able to transition to telehealth services.

“Training ended up being the most important factor leading to a positive transition. “

Jenni Pollen, Preferred Behavioral Health Group

“As we moved forward, we faced multiple issues outside of the EHR,” Pollen said. “We had to train all clinical staff in the interpretation and use of the revised clinical system. We were faced with an aging fleet of laptops as well as an extreme shortage of laptops and phones needed for customers without access to a computer. “

Almost half a million from the FCC

Pollen led the team, which included IT and finance, which applied for an FCC telehealth grant. PBHG received $ 420,675 for laptops, phones and remote access software to provide video and voice consultations and remote monitoring of patients undergoing treatment for mental health and mental health issues. drug addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The funds have enabled us to provide all clinicians with new equipment and, more importantly, clients have now reconnected with their clinicians,” Pollen said.

As PBHG has evolved using telehealth, reports have been developed that have identified misuse of the EHR. Clinicians had to identify the service as telehealth or telephone. Minimum durations were necessary in order to be able to invoice the service.

“Training ended up being the single most important factor leading to a positive transition,” Pollen said. “The team developed training materials, which were provided to all clinicians. The company’s IT and Compliance departments provided support services to clinicians who needed immediate assistance.

Extremely sensitive patients

People with pre-existing mental illness or addictions were extremely likely to exacerbate their condition or relapse during the pandemic. Many people with underlying health conditions were unable to leave their homes for group therapy or counseling. They lived in isolation and despair.

“The loneliness intensified their underlying mental illness and addiction issues,” Pollen explained. “Thanks to telehealth, staff were able to stay in touch with their clients and the community. We were able to use all of our resources to virtually provide essential therapy and support. In the past year, we have provided 100,000 services to children, adolescents and adults; and 85% of these services were provided by telehealth. “

PBHG is now in its second year of operation in “pandemic mode” and has regained pre-pandemic volumes in most regions.

“During the year, we produced reports comparing volumes and revenues by service area before and after the pandemic,” Pollen said. “Other reports track billing compliance by service area. Thinking back to last year, the two most important success factors would be training and teamwork. Our organization has received strong support from our management team and board of directors. is our strength at PBHG.

“PBHG is determined and determined to support our mission, our vision and our promise so that no one who comes to us ever feels isolated, lost or alone,” she concluded. “Technology has enabled us to stay connected to the most vulnerable during these difficult times. Recovery is possible, and we will always be here to save lives and change lives.”


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