Thought Leadership

Mind Springs Success Story – An EHR Unfinished

The challenge

In early 2020, after a long and exhausting implementation of its new EHR, Mind Springs Health recognized that there was some critical functionality that wasn’t firing on all cylinders.  This was leading to some early staff dissatisfaction; something that CEO, Sharon Raggio, wanted to get out in front of. 

Mind Springs Health covers 10 counties in Northwest Colorado and employs around 600 staff.  They provide services at 14 outpatient locations serving approximately 15,000 clients, and have an inpatient psychiatric hospital (West Springs) which serves 2,500 clients at any given time.  Mind Springs also provides Residential Services for Detox and SUD Treatment, Mobile Crisis, as well as Psychiatry.  

Raggio determined that this would be the right time to take some inventory of how the new system was running and if there were some gaps that were leading to the lack of satisfaction within her staff.  With any new implementation there is always a learning curve that can make some uncomfortable.  That said, Sharon set out to find a 3rd party that would assist in an EHR Optimization project.  However, she was adamant that once she found the right Behavioral Health consulting partner for this project, the EHR Vendor was also going to be part of the optimization.  “I felt that our vendor needed to be part of this process in order to correct some of the initial implementation issues,” she said. 

An EHR optimized

Afia stepped in and provided an assessment of the EHR, and started to work on a prioritization list to get all the pain points and needed efficiencies in one place; this gave the team a consolidated view of the work plan.  Afia’s team worked with Mind Springs and the EHR vendor to begin tackling the major issues, and coordinated weekly updates for stakeholders on the top initiatives.  As they started to complete items on the list, it was important to celebrate even the little “wins.”  

One of the biggest challenges that Mind Springs faced was its Revenue Cycle Management processes; this was the top priority on their list.  The EHR vendor worked with billing staff and provided additional training, which was helpful.  However, Raggio felt a new approach was needed and Afia responded.  “Afia brought a change in the conversation and really looked at it systematically.  This view of the process really changed mindsets and I don’t think we would have gotten there without that,” Raggio said. At the beginning of the optimization of the Revenue Cycle Mind Springs had a 16% denial rate (multifactorial reasons), and had to rely on payer reports to understand why because the EHR reports weren’t sufficient.  With Afia’s support, Mind Springs was able to improve workflows into their EHR which allowed for their data team to build reports that provide better insight into the root cause for staff. 

With this new information empowering their workflows, denials are now down to 6% and expect to be at 2% in a few months.

As part of the project, Afia also provided support on the Mind Springs Governance Structure, with a focus on organization-wide change management and stakeholder engagement.  It helped Mind Springs become more aligned, and provided tools to make better decisions about where to allocate limited resources.  These tools are still in place today, and have been valuable when it comes to discussions about where to spend their team’s time, and where to potentially make financial investments as well.  This alignment has been a “game changer” for Mind Springs and allowed them to maintain themselves as a self-sustainable organization without much need for vendor or other 3rd party assistance.  

The outcome

By bringing together the EHR Vendor, Afia, and Mind Springs, we were able to create an effective path to work through many complex process and functionality issues. While there is always work to do, this foundation will create a better experience for the staff that leverage the EHR every day.

“The relationship with Afia was truly life-changing for our organization,” Raggio concluded. 

All Thought Leadership