SAMHSA’s BHBusiness Plus Now Entering its Third Year

Submitted by: 10/14/2014 by Maureen Fitzgerald


SAMHSA’s BHBusiness Plus begins its third year of online technical assistance and training in November. NIATx, Advocates for Human Potential (AHP) and the National Council have partnered to develop the content and structure for BHBusiness Plus. Still offered at no cost to participants, this year’s learning networks cover topics in a shorter timeframe.

The training initiative was known as BHBusiness: Mastering Essential Business Operations in its first two years.  The new title, BHBusiness Plus, reflects the project’s expanded topics and customized technical support.

Amy McIlvaine, Educational Services Director for NIATx, works with subject matter experts to create the content for the BHBusiness Plus learning networks on financial operations. These include Setting up a Third-Party Billing System, Improving Billing Systems to Increase Collections and Compliance, Third-party Contract Negotiations.

“With so many competing priorities, behavioral health care professionals need training that is relevant to their needs and that fits into a busy schedule,” says McIlvaine. The new shorter duration of the networks is designed to help participants learn new material, make a change, and implement it more quickly. Participants will learn new material in the first 30 days; after that, coach support and peer networking will focus on implementing a new process or changing a current process.

“Past participants have ranked the coach support and peer networking built into BHBusiness Plus as extremely valuable,” adds McIlvaine. “Knowing that, we’ve tailored this round of learning networks to maximize opportunities for building coach and peer relationships.”  

While online instruction is a new way of learning for some, BHBusiness Plus offers a lot of support for the uninitiated.

“The BHBusiness Plus team strives to make the online learning component as user-friendly as possible,” says McIlvaine. “Our coaches, the coach liaisons, and technical support staff are all willing to help, making this a great opportunity to try something new.”

McIlvaine points out that the learning networks are also a great job training and development tool, especially for staff with limited background in the business aspects of running an organization. “BHBusiness Plus is an excellent way to teach mid-level managers about the myriad of business practices that behavioral health organizations need to develop in today’s changing healthcare environment.”

Learning topics added this year in response to that changing environment include Exploring Affiliations, Mergers, and Acquisitions.  “This learning network will feature the real-world experience of professionals from behavioral health organizations, who will share their own experiences with mergers and acquisitions,” explains McIlvaine.

Another learning network new this year, Costing out Your Services, is designed for providers who been relying mainly on federal and state block grant funding to run their organizations.

 “The emphasis is on helping providers diversify their revenue streams,” says McIlvaine. Learning network participants will identify which of their services are billable and how much to charge for them. “They’ll also get a walk-through of profit and loss statement, an introduction to Excel, and some nice forms and templates that they can use to get started so they don’t have to create them on their own.”

Making BHbusiness Plus relevant to everyday practice has been a top priority for the project, and McIlvaine and fellow content developers Kim Johnson at NIATx, AHP, and the National Council have adjusted the content continually in response to participants’ needs.

“The revised course on Improving Billing Systems to Increase Collections and Compliance includes tip sheets that will be easy for participants to replicate and use for training their own teams,” says McIlvaine.

BHBusiness Plus is now accepting applications for learning networks starting in February 2015. For more information on learning network topics, how to apply, or who should participate, contact Amy McIlvaine at (608) 262-5999 or email

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