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Behavioral Health Systems Improvement Collaborative (BHSIC)

The Behavioral Health Systems Improvement Collaborative (BHSIC) was created in 2001 as a joint venture between the Mental Hygiene Administration (MHA) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). This new program evolved from the longstanding training partnership between UMB and MHA, the Mental Health Services Training Collaborative (MHSTC). In response to the success of this activity in supporting the development of the Public Mental Health System (PMHS), leaders of the two organizations explored other possibilities for collaboration. The new Collaborative is the result of that mutual deliberation. Since July, 2014, following MHA’s integration with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration to form the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), the successful partnership continues, with an expanded focus to include substance related disorders for the Public Behavioral Health System (PBHS).

BHSIC is made up of the former Training Collaborative, now renamed the Training Center, the Evidence-Based Practice Center and the Systems Evaluation Center. The three Centers work in partnership, in conjunction with BHA, to foster and support the continued development of the PBHS. This combination of Centers provides an opportunity to initiate changes in system management, program and provider improvement, policy development, and service delivery.

BHSIC staff believes that involvement of representatives of the mental health community in the State enhances the success of the Collaborative’s initiatives. Consumers and family members, providers, administrators, and other advocates are routinely asked to participate in work groups related to specific projects. The BHSIC welcomes comments and ideas from anyone who has an interest in our activities.

Training Center (TC)

The Training Center, formerly the Mental Health Services Training Collaborative, assists the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) in planning, organizing and implementing conferences and training activities to support the continued growth and development of the public behavioral health system. The Training Center represents collaboration between BHA and the University’s Division of Psychiatric Services Research designed to serve the training and service development needs of Maryland’s behavioral health delivery system. Reflecting BHA’s commitment to education and training, the Training Center ensures that the University’s emphasis on research and implementing evidence-based treatment is closely interwoven with the needs and growth of the public behavioral health system. Additionally, the TC monitors training funds that are awarded each year to consumer advocacy agencies for a variety of programs that promote awareness and understanding on a broad range of behavioral health issues. It also monitors the overall quality of all sponsored training activities.

Evidence-Based Practice Center (EBPC)

The behavioral health field has benefited from a substantial body of research about practices that improve the lives of many people who experience mental illness and substance related disorders. Yet research shows these practices are frequently not made available to those seeking treatment. The Evidence-Based Practice Center (EBPC) was established in 2001 to address this gap between science and real world practice. The Centers goal is to distribute research-based information on behavioral health treatment to stakeholders in Maryland’s public behavioral health system, and to promote adoption and implementation of those practices through ongoing training and consultation.

Through its location within the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the EBP Center has access to a broad range of materials and key figures in mental health practice and policy research. They can be helpful to BHA’s ongoing efforts to improve practice within the public behavioral health system by assisting providers to implement services that promote stabilization, healing and recovery.

The EBP Center provides direct training and consultation on evidence-based practices to local mental health and addiction authorities, program leaders, clinicians, consumers and family members. It serves as a resource to BHA in examining and addressing the system barriers to faithful implementation of evidence-based practices. The Center also assists BHA in responding to federal and other funding opportunities that offer an expanded capacity for research and service delivery in the state.

Systems Evaluation Center (SEC)

The Systems Evaluation Center (SEC) supports the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) through program evaluation, research, data analysis, technical assistance, and consultation. The information obtained from these activities provides feedback about the functioning of the public behavioral health system and to meet state and federal reporting requirements.

The SEC has played a key role in the development and implementation of BHA’s Outcomes Measurement System (OMS), which was created in collaboration with consumers, family members, providers, and other system stakeholders including the administrative services organization for BHA. The OMS tracks how individuals receiving outpatient behavioral health services in Maryland’s Public Behavioral Health System (PBHS) are doing over time in various life domains; aggregate data are available through an online reporting system. The SEC has also worked with the BHA and stakeholders to develop additional data collection systems that are used for general system management, local program development, or progress monitoring for specific initiatives.

The SEC conducts a wide variety of data analyses for the BHA. Data sources include claims files, service authorization files, eligibility and provider files, OMS data, and Maryland’s annual Consumer Perception of Care surveys. Such analyses may be conducted on a regular basis to inform ongoing administrative activities, or may be performed ad hoc in order to address targeted questions related to policy questions or current system issues. The SEC and BHA also regularly collaborate to produce and disseminate one-page “Data Shorts.” The Data Shorts are designed to provide behavioral health data in a brief, user-friendly way so that they can be used by various stakeholders.

The SEC serves as a tangible link between the service-oriented PBHS and the research-oriented academic environment at the University. The Center often provides analyses on PBHS data to support research grant proposals or projects conducted by University faculty members. Such work provides an opportunity for the Center to help scientifically address those issues most relevant to the Public Behavioral Health System.