Surprising turnaround at a mental health care institution: lower costs, more time for the patient.

Mental health care in the Netherlands is undergoing change. As with other care sectors, Dutch mental health care (GGZ) institutions are expected to work more efficiently by making better use of available financial resources. Accezz supported a mental health care organisation to implement change, and its collaborative approach led to a surprising turnaround.

Each day, doctors and psychologists provide necessary care, but the government and insurance companies expect services to operate with less money. Rigorous job cutting is not an option, however, because patients rely on the help offered by individual care providers. The Accezz approach to implement change was chosen by the institution as it would result in reduced costs while allowing care providers to offer an improved service.

The mission of this particular sector is clear: to help people with mental health problems. Patients are referred by a family doctor or hospital because of psychological issues. Sometimes people are referred because of arachnophobia, for example, sometimes for life-threatening behaviour. While a curative approach is often adopted, therapy can also primarily focus on learning to cope with a problem.

During the change programme with Accezz, two crucial improvements were implemented. In the first place, so-called care pathways were established. These pathways specify which therapy is suitable for a particular condition or diagnosis and which financial framework is associated with it. Secondly, a new work process was developed and implemented as a result of which care providers can spend more time with their patients. Where previously much of the care provider’s time was spent on planning and administration, these days planners are responsible for such tasks or they have been done away with completely. Psychiatrists and psychologist now have more time available for consultations and therapies with their patients.

These two changes have resulted in reduced costs for the institution. Surprisingly, there have also been important benefits for patients. Waiting lists have become shorter and patients can thus receive help more quickly. Moreover, therapies take less time so patients can now complete their treatment sooner. It’s a clear win-win situation!