Use of accessible technology promotes increased engagement in day program

By |Published On: November 3rd, 2022|

By Gary Enos

Article was published in the October 31st, 2022 issue of Mental Health Weekly featuring GoMo Health

Patient success in a psychiatric rehabilitation program often hinges on events occurring outside the limited time the patient spends at treatment. Seeking to keep patients more engaged at key moments in their week, a New Jersey day treatment program makes regular use of an innovative but still accessible tool for maintaining patient contact. 

Bridgeway Behavioral Health Services has offered its “Every Day Matters” service to patients in its northern New Jersey partial care program since 2017. The service delivers text reminders of appointments to patients and customized content via links to educational material, music and other motivational tools. 

Most importantly, Bridgeway leaders said, is that Every Day Matters has helped build a stronger sense of community within the day program, reflected in the organization’s use of the term “members” rather than “patients” to describe program participants. Members can interact with and motivate one another via Every Day Matters. 

“When members knew it was [other members’] messages they were reading, it enhanced their sense of connectedness,” Ronald Allen, Bridgeway’s partial care team leader in Sussex County, told MHW. “We noticed that members started interacting more. They even started their own Facebook group.” 

The program uses the GoMo Health cloud-based platform to deliver ongoing support to members. Those who own a smartphone are able to access links to customized content, but for a day program that serves many low-income patients with limited access to technology, it was important to be able to offer at least some level of support to everyone. 

“A standout factor for Bridgeway selecting GoMo is that we serve a high percentage of people living below the poverty line and many can’t afford smartphones or computers,” Bridgeway CEO Cory Storch told MHW. “But they do have flip phones and can send and receive text messages.” 

GoMo Health is a population health management company that creates personalized patient engagement solutions designed to support health care organizations’ continuum of care. It works with several other behavioral health clients, including the Mental Health Association in New Jersey Inc. The structure of its fees varies depending on the client and the number of components in a contracted program, a company spokesperson told MHW. 

Improving attendance 

The establishment of Every Day Matters grew out of a goal to improve attendance in Bridgeway’s partial care program, which the organization describes as offering “clinical, 

prevocational, educational, social and support services as a bridge between emotional illness and productive active living.” The recovery-oriented services are designed to limit the need for more acute services. 

The day program depends on Medicaid and state general funds and operates at a deficit, Allen said, so making sure members show up improves the bottom line. Moreover, regular attendance benefits both the individual patient and fellow members, he said. 

“Our program is based on the clubhouse model,” Allen said. “It could give someone else a chance to engage, if you show up.” 

The use of Every Day Matters allows program leaders and a member’s peers to send text prompts to individuals in advance of their scheduled visits. The message might announce that everyone is looking forward to seeing the member that day, or might preview what will be worked on in that session. “We like to get people before they might come to the decision that they’re not coming in,” Allen said. 

Members can choose in advance the days and times that they prefer to be contacted. They also can send certain keywords that will trigger specific content sent back to them. Users without a smartphone are limited to receiving texts, while smartphone users can click on links to motivational content and other relevant material. 

Allen said Every Day Matters can provide a lifeline during critical moments between members’ visits to the day program. “When they’re alone and feel isolated, they can open up GoMo and it helps them feel connected and supported,” he said. 

Bridgeway found several benefits to the program when it conducted a comparison of results for Every Day Matters participants and nonparticipants over a 12-month period. It calculated increases of 16.7% in weekly attendance and 40.9% in program retention for users of Every Day Matters. In addition, the rate of change in revenue for the day program was 11.9% higher in the Every Day Matters group. 

Allen said that because GoMo Health had mainly worked with customers in general medical care at the time Every Day Matters was launched, Bridgeway assumed the lead role in designing the initial customized content for the program. Allen suggested that other programs seeking to establish a similar service for their patients should analyze program culture and carefully determine the content that will speak most to their patients’ needs. They also should directly involve patients in the design of the program, he said. 

Important during the pandemic 

Allen said the availability of Every Day Matters made a big difference for Bridgeway when it had to suspend its in-person services in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization is now looking into expanding the service into its partial care program in Union County, New Jersey, he said. 

He emphasized that although the enhancements to attendance and revenue are critically important, the benefits of Every Day Matters in enhancing member connection remain the service’s most significant accomplishment. 

“These are people who have had so much destruction in their lives,” Allen said of members. Many of them lost professional careers as a result of a serious mental illness, he said. 

“In a day environment, people can practice their skills,” he said. “Unless they start making use of these skills and gaining muscle memory, the skills aren’t going to be helpful to them.” Simply showing up regularly makes such a difference, he said. 

Download our free white paper created in collaboration with Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services, detailing Bridgeway’s Every Day Matters program, its effects on the community, and BehavioralRx®, the science used to implement it.

Download our White Paper
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