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Integrating AI in Mental Health, IDD, and Substance Use Disorder Ops

Integrating AI in Mental Health, IDD, and Substance Use Disorder Ops

It’s nearly impossible for today’s healthcare providers and staff to optimize their care procedures without at least considering artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. AI is seemingly everywhere in the healthcare ecosystem. And in nearly every area of healthcare, these technologies are helping providers streamline backend operations and improve the quality of care and support.

But integrating AI in mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) services can seem overwhelming. These specialties require solutions designed to address clients’ and providers’ unique circumstances, so finding and integrating the ideal tools into your existing systems and workflows takes time and research. Organizations must ask key questions about their operational and care-based requirements.

Here are six steps to take to choose the right AI solutions for your organization.

Get the eBook: Guide to Selecting Behavioral Health and IDD AI Technology

1. Take Stock of Your Needs and Challenges

AI solutions are meant to do just that: solve problems. With countless AI companies and a growing number of AI tools to choose from, it’s critical for behavioral health leaders to first identify the needs of their providers, staff, and clients to ensure they select the right solution.

Collect and consider feedback from those involved in your operations. Are staff overloaded with work? Are clients struggling to schedule appointments? Do your providers need more support in making accurate and timely diagnoses?

Be sure to assess all areas of your operations, including:

  • Current workflows, to find time-consuming redundancies 
  • Scheduling and care procedures, to evaluate whether or how clients are falling through the cracks 
  • Current technologies, to find outdated tools that are no longer serving providers and clients effectively and/or efficiently
  • Cost structures, to identify opportunities for enhancing revenue

2. Do Your Due Diligence

The search for the right AI in mental health, substance use, or IDD can lead to many results, not all of which will be relevant to your needs. After you’ve taken time to identify your organization’s pain points and opportunities for improvement, research specific AI-powered solutions that can help solve them. Consider the following options that may be good fits:

  • Ambient dictation. A foundational survey found that more than 90% of healthcare providers find their documentation requirements to be onerous. By enabling providers to record verbal notes into client charts and electronic health records (EHRs), ambient dictation lessens this documentation burden and saves providers critical time they can otherwise spend working directly with existing clients or supporting more clients. 
  • Behavioral health chatbots. AI-powered chatbots can help streamline operations by scheduling appointments and navigating client inquiries. Some mental health chatbots offer around-the-clock virtual support for clients, and others even escalate concerns to providers to prevent crisis episodes. 
  • Diagnosis tracking tools. A major impact of AI in healthcare is its ability to enhance diagnostic procedures. AI can analyze massive datasets to identify hard-to-spot symptoms and connect them to possible diagnoses. These tools help providers make more accurate diagnoses earlier in care. 
  • AI algorithms. Solutions built specifically for behavioral health specialties — such as AI psychotherapy — can help support operations and care throughout the entire client journey. These solutions can monitor clients’ progress to keep them on track or assess treatment adherence over time. 

As a leader in behavioral health technology, Core Solutions offers AI-powered technologies that enhance client care and practice logistics. Core can help providers spot anomalies in administrative progress notes, track social determinants of health, and improve billing cycles — all to help ensure clients get the best care and support possible.

3. Put Equity First

A behavioral health chatbot, AI psychotherapy tool, or any other AI-powered solution is only as good as the data it’s trained on. If human biases are embedded into that data, the AI’s outputs will reflect those biases, potentially influencing clinical care decisions. In one study, for example, an AI in mental health solution that used natural language processing (NLP) replicated human biases related to gender, race, and nationality.

The impact of AI in healthcare can be significant. Before adopting and integrating a solution into your workflows, take time to evaluate how developers collected the data the AI was trained on, which demographics were included in the data, and what precautions developers took to avoid embedded biases. More specifically, avoid AI solutions that indicate:

  • Illegal bias: models that discriminate against a particular group 
  • Unfair bias: models with embedded unethical behavior, such as favoring one group over another 
  • Inherent bias: models that use data patterns that unintentionally steer users in particular directions
Get the eBook: Guide to Selecting Behavioral Health and IDD AI Technology 

4. Prepare for Implementation

Implementation of any new technology, including AI solutions, requires some level of change management, so it’s in leaders’ best interests to prepare providers and staff for the integration. Clearly explain to employees how the new AI technology will impact their workloads and client care, and train them on areas including: 

  • The basics of how the AI solution works 
  • The social and ethical implications of the AI 
  • Evaluating the quality of the AI’s inputs and outputs 
  • Assessing the AI’s impact to clinical care

In some cases, you’ll want to start small by integrating one solution into your existing systems, then build from there. It’s critical, however, for leaders to balance an incremental approach with the need for a more holistic solution like Core’s Cx360 EHR, which ultimately provides the greatest efficiency and most benefits.

Core makes integration as easy and seamless as possible with solutions that can be applied as standalone add-ons or quickly connected into an existing EHR or care management platform via an easy-to-implement application programming interface (API).

5. Prioritize Data Security, Privacy, and Compliance

The healthcare industry is no stranger to data breaches. In 2023 alone, the industry saw more than 133 million client record breaches — the highest ever. With an increasing need for data security, providers and clients are rightfully concerned about AI’s impact on sensitive data circulating in the healthcare system.

That’s why it’s crucial to evaluate an AI technology’s security protocols and effectiveness before adopting the solution. Explore secure AI solutions like Core’s, which are designed with security checkpoints at every stage of development and built with protocols that align with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s standards and best practices.

6. Choose a Comprehensive Platform

There are numerous AI options on the market, but few are designed to provide solutions specifically for behavioral healthcare organizations. To get the most out of your technology, look for a comprehensive platform like Core’s, which is built to meet behavioral health provider- and staff-specific needs. In addition to Cx360, which includes telehealth, optimized billing, and workflow management functionalities, Core offers several AI-powered tools such as:

  • Core Clinician Assist: Documentation for recording provider/client sessions to identify health needs earlier and more accurately
  • Core Clinician Assist: Symptom Tracking that scans provider notes to spot hard-to-find symptoms to aid diagnosis
  • Core Clinician Assist: SDOH Tracking, which makes social determinants of health visible to providers at the point of care
  • Core Clinician Assist: Anomaly Detection for flagging potential issues that might impact the efficacy of care

The use of AI in mental health, substance use disorder, and IDD services is rapidly evolving, and Core is at the forefront of innovation. Designed specifically for behavioral healthcare providers and staff, our AI solutions and platform are helping organizations nationwide elevate their operations and quality of care. To learn what Core can do for you, get a demo today.

Guide to Selecting Behavioral Health and IDD AI Technology

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