Health Care

Hope Network aims to treat whole patient

Hiring first chief medical officer, broadening services among changes organization is making.

July 19, 2019
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Health care leaders and providers are increasingly seeing a cultural change toward care that focuses on the whole person.

Hope Network, which offers behavioral health services across Michigan, is among those organizations taking steps to meet that cultural change.

A lot of people think Hope Network works solely on patients’ mental health issues, said Tim Becker, chief health care officer for the organization. But he called Hope Network a health and human services organization that serves people who have co-occurring conditions, not just mental illness or developmental disability.

The organization provides a range of rehabilitation, behavioral health, developmental and community support services; transitional inpatient brain injury rehabilitation; lifestyle enrichment programs; neurobehavioral inpatient programs; crisis residential treatment; and supported independent living.

Hope Network serves more than 20,000 people annually with more than 240 locations throughout Michigan.

While the organization still focuses on mental health, Becker said there are medical components to its programs because mental and physical health issues often are related or can go hand in hand.

Hope Network has seen many of its programs become more medically intensive, Becker said.

One of the reasons for this could be because of the state’s Healthy Michigan Plan, which came online several years ago and met a pent-up demand for mental health services by underserved populations, many that had more acute needs than other populations. The program has about 650,000 members, he said.

“Frankly, they are probably going to see a net savings on the physical health side as behavioral health issues are addressed,” he said.

To help address some of these increasing needs, Hope Network recently appointed its first chief medical officer, Dr. Kiran Taylor, to advise leadership on managing this and building components that historically have not been part of the organization.

Hope Network recently added a recovery program to treat people with substance use issues, for example.

In the past, he said Hope Network only has been able to treat people with the primary mental health issues. If they had secondary substance use issues, they would get referred elsewhere. With Taylor’s help, Hope Network now will be able to serve crisis residential patients with substance use issues and mental illness.

“One of our objectives is to not bounce people around the system,” Becker said. “Usually, the care tends to break down when that happens.”

Taylor is coming to Hope Network from her role as chief of psychiatry and behavioral medicine for Spectrum Health. She's also a clinical assistant professor with the Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry in Grand Rapids.

Under Taylor’s leadership at Spectrum, the team implemented suicide prevention training across the health system, expanded integrated behavioral health care into 27 primary care sites throughout West Michigan and expanded telepsychiatry services to one of the highest-volume programs in Michigan, Hope Network said. 

Taylor also serves on the statewide integrated behavioral health care task force for the Michigan Hospital Association and the integrated care subcommittee for the Michigan Psychiatric Society. Taylor is a member of the Michigan Psychiatric Society, American Psychiatric Association and Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine.

“It is a big position she's coming from, and we're blessed to be able to land someone like Dr. Taylor,” Becker said. “She's touched many of the things that we have an interest in pursuing.”

Some of those accomplishments include strategic planning for future growth, and she was a Zero Suicide grant recipient a few years ago. 

Becker said Hope Network is trying to expand services to more rural areas of the state — whether through physical sites or telepsych services — and could benefit from Taylor’s experience in that area, as well.

“A goal I've had since I've come to Hope Network … is to meet people where they are,” he said. 

After a tour of the Upper Peninsula, Hope Network opened a crisis residential unit and an integrated care program in St. Ignace last year.

“I'm anticipating we will have more of those types of opportunities to go and meet people where they are and not expect people to have to go hundreds of miles to get their needs met when it comes to behavioral health,” Becker said.

Becker said Hope Network also has been engaging with health plans and health systems in order to meet some of their needs and now has some contracts with health insurance plans. Some contracts have been in place for a while but have been underutilized, but the organization is starting to see more engagement with some of those services.

Last spring, Hope Network opened a youth outpatient clinic, for example, which tends to appeal more to commercial payers, in addition to the community mental health system. 

“So, it's a blend of both current programming with enhancements and some new service offerings that I think have more appeal to the commercial payers,” he said.

Having a CMO works nicely when having some of those conversations with health systems and health plans, he said.

“It's helpful to have the docs speaking the same language, and it gets to the solutions much more quickly,” Becker said.

While waiting for Taylor to begin her role Nov. 3, Becker said Hope Network will continue moving forward on initiatives already in process.

Though he said this move by Hope Network maybe is a bit overdue, Becker said he’s thankful the changes are being made.

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