With public mental health budgets under fire everywhere, the debate over funding is intensifying. Definitely more support is needed for mental health in all respects. But it is also true that so much public funding is wasted by entities that are not evaluating efficiency and effectiveness correctly.
Business-speak about public spending is currently fashionable in government circles. President Obama often talks about our country not funding, but “investing in”, education, innovation, and infrastructure. At a recent presentation to the New Jersey Mental Health Planning Council about her county’s department , even an assistant county mental health administrator frequently invoked management terms like “investments” and “business models”. Such terms can make public spending sound more disciplined, effective, and efficient. But their use is this way isn’t complete unless it includes the predicate that is logically implied, namely, value.
Building on the concept of value as applied to health care by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, together with a cost-accounting technique called time-driven activity-based costing as advanced by another Harvard Business School professor, Robert Kaplan, PsychOdyssey’s Tom Pyle has written a short paper called Value: A Better Measure for Health Care and Mental Health Services. Tom’s paper proposes that the concept of value (more than the idea of “outcomes”) is a better way to measure the impact of what we once called public funding, but are now calling “investments”, in public mental health services. Policy makers and advisers thinking about how better to market public spending on mental health ought to give the value concept as a measurement tool a close look.
To read “Value: A Better Measure for Health Care and Mental Health Services”, click here.
Professors Porter and Kaplan have written an excellent article on the subject, entitled “How To Solve The Health Care Crisis” in Harvard Business Review. To see a very digestible introductory video clip of them describing their concept from this article, click here.