A request for real collaboration to the Chicago area Treatment Centers

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As some of you may know I am blessed to have had the opportunity to enter this field mostly because of the wisdom and experience of my wife, Kim Dennis.  “Dr. Kim” as she is known is one of if not the most committed and knowledgeable people I have ever met in my life.  She is also unbelievably ethical and selfless.  She lives to save lives, and in many cases she knows how to do so.  She also lives to make positive differences in this world, and she is not afraid to do so.  We share that trait in common.

I am the business guy here at SCH.  I owned and operated a direct marketing business pretty much straight out of college and was fortunate to be around for the booming 2000’s.  I am also someone who has personally lived with and struggled with what I sometimes refer to as, “all of the above” here at SunCloud.  I grew up with a family full of alcoholics, drug addicts and even eating disorders (both parents and grandparents),  I myself spent 4 months at an inpatient psych unit when I was 16 due to a near death experience with anorexia and bulimia, I spent my early twenties abusing both alcohol and drugs, I have experienced plenty of trauma in my life and of course I fell in love with and married Kim, a woman who knows a little something about recovery…  

Besides the personal experiences with “all of the above”, I am also quite passionate about playing an integral role in improving what I see as a desperately needed and incredibly broken system of mental health and addiction delivery services.  Much is this for me is focused on moving the needle away from the wild wild west where nobody really knows who does what or how well they do it and where providers get paid based solely on quantity of services TO a more transparent system where patients and their families are able to access and utilize standardized tools as they make life or death decisions and where providers get paid based on the value they are providing their patients where value is a function of outcomes that matter to patients per dollar spent.  We all know this is where much of healthcare has gone and is going, and we also know behavioral health has been extremely slow to follow.  There are lots of reasons for this, and yet that does not mean as leaders operating good and honest businesses that we should not try to do what we can to improve what in many ways is a broken system that fails both patients and providers in so many ways.

To that end we collect a lot of outcome data here at SunCloud Health.  We want to know what we are doing well and what we are not doing as well so we can improve where we can and exit where we are not useful, and we use the data as an integral part of this continuous improvement process.  The challenge lies in the limited usefulness of the data we are collecting when it can not be compared against others providing similar services collecting similar data.  My guess is your facilities are all collecting data and I would bet my life on the fact that none of us are collecting the same data in the same way.  Therefore, when a patient is trying to decide where to go and why , they really cannot use our data or your data.  They do, and it is possibly misleading. Further, if a payer is trying to decide whether to pay us 5 dollars or 6 dollars for a service, they lack any meaningful comparison required in order to make that decision for their members.

I am actively looking forward to engaging in a true collaborative effort to collect and share data with the treatment community.  I know if we could actually put together a group of us in the Chicago area and pull this off, we would not only be helping our patients but we would also be in a much stronger position to help our respective businesses.  And we would make history.  Others would have no choice but to follow in our footsteps or be left in the dust as an unwilling participant in the future of healthcare.  The thousands of providers in this country who are providing terrible care but nobody really knows because nobody has any data to “prove it” would be put out of business.  This would save lives and free up badly needed skilled labor for those of us who are actually doing good work.  And the list of pros goes on and on and on….

I will leave you with an article written by Atul Gawande for the, “New Yorker” in 2004 titled, “The Bell Curve“.  This article really does a great job of making the case for what I think we must do in our space.  As Don Berwick says in the article, “To fix medicine we need to do two things… measure ourselves and be more open about what we are doing….openness (with results) will drive improvement, if simply through embarrassment.  It will make clear that the well-being and convenience of patients, not doctors, is paramount.  It will also serve a moral good, because people should be able to learn about anything that affects their lives…”.  And in my own experience in running multiple businesses over the past 25 years, what is good for our customers is generally good for us as suppliers/providers- even if it feels scary in the moment and even if it means some short term pain.

The Bell Curve What happens when patients find out how good their doctors really are?

READ MORE: The Health-Care Bell Curve I The New Yorker >>>

Thank you in anticipation of your consideration. 

 If you have any interest, please let me know.

David Newton

Director of Operations, SunCloud Health