BHBusiness Learning Networks: Applications still being accepted for free training on essential business operations

Submitted by: 03/03/2014 by Maureen Fitzgerald

Treatment organizations across the country are building their business skills with the start of the second round of BHbusiness: Mastering Essential Business Operations learning networks. SAMHSA developed the free training and support program to ensure that behavioral healthcare providers are ready to meet the demand for services in the new environment of healthcare reform. Partners in the project include the State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS), NIATx, Advocates for Human Potential (AHP) and the National Council.

Participants are grouped into “learning networks” and focus on one topic at a time. Topics covered include strategic business planning, third-party billing, third-party contracting, HIT adoption and eligibility and enrollment strategies. Participants acquire new knowledge and proficiencies over a 16- or 24-week period, depending on the topic, through a variety of learning activities. These include viewing recorded lectures online, joining regular teleconference calls, reading articles, completing homework assignments online, and participating in online discussion forums. An expert coach guides each learning network.

Learning networks in 22 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have signed on for courses in Strategic Business Planning, Third-party Billing and Compliance, Third-Party Contract Negotiations, Eligibility and Enrollment, or Meaningful Use of Health Information Technology.

Volunteers of America (VOA) participated in a Strategic Business Planning Learning Network in the first round of BHbusiness (March-September 2013).

“Our experience was so beneficial that we’re participating again, this time in a Third-party Contract Negotiations learning network,” says Margaret Ratcliff, Executive Vice President of Affiliate Relations for VOA. The organization has 33 affiliates across the country, with 16,000 staff and nearly 60,000 volunteers delivering a range of services to veterans, at-risk youth, the elderly, people returning from prison, the homeless, people with disabilities, and people with addictions. Fourteen VOA affiliates are participating in the learning network for this round, and all include someone who completed the first course.

“I was pleased that people found the first course so beneficial that they wanted to do a second one,” says Ratcliff, adding that the Third-party Contract Negotiations course was a logical next step for her group.

“The biggest takeaway from the first network was learning the basics of how health care reform is unfolding, and how our local affiliates need to look at doing business differently,” comments Ratcliff. “I think people ended the course feeling more knowledgeable and more comfortable with the changes, so they could participate more fully at their local levels.”

For this round, Ratcliff says the group is hoping to end up doing more business with payers they have not worked with before. “Our experience with third-party contracts has been fairly limited, as most of our funding to date has come from local, state and federal contracts.”

Applications for this round of learning networks are still being accepted, say project leaders.

“We’re extending the deadline to make this free training available to more organizations looking to add to their and knowledge of business operations, especially in the context of changes underway with the implementation of health care reform,” says Kim Johnson, Deputy Director of NIATx and co-director of the ATTC Network Coordinating Office.

For more information or to enroll, visit BHbusiness: Mastering Essential Business Operations

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