During Eleos Health’s most recent webinar event, an audience poll revealed that more than 70% of attendees plan to use AI in their behavioral health organizations—with about 50% saying they plan to implement a solution within the next year.
Clearly, AI—and more specifically, Augmented Intelligence—is top of mind for behavioral health leaders as they look toward 2024 and beyond. But while there are plenty of resources available to educate the industry on what AI is and why it’s valuable, no one’s really talking about how to successfully implement it in their organizations.
We set out to change that with an event focused solely on AI rollout: The Behavioral Health AI Implementation Playbook.
In this session, a panel of Eleos Health experts teamed up with Kate Benedetto, the Manager of Enterprise Applications at Colorado-based Mental Health Partners (MHP), to discuss best practices for implementing specialized AI technology.
Watch the full webinar recording here—or read on for a quick recap of the most important steps you can take to ensure a successful AI rollout in your behavioral health organization.
1. Do your homework.
One of the most important stages of the implementation process actually comes before rollout. Prior to introducing any new software in your tech ecosystem, it’s crucial to:
- Understand how the new software fits into your existing systems and workflows.
- Align internally on requirements and specifications for the new system.
At Eleos, we call this the “discovery phase.” Our team works closely with your organization to map your needs to our capabilities. This includes lining up our platform to work with your EHR, your telehealth solution, and your specific documentation requirements.
Minimize any “gotchas” that could delay your implementation.
An in-depth discovery makes the adoption process smoother and easier, and minimizing bumps in the road—what Benedetto refers to as “gotcha moments”—can mean the difference between a timely go-live and a major hold-up.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” she said. “There will always be those gotcha moments where you think maybe you could have done things differently, but I really appreciated that detailed discovery process with Eleos.”
She says one memorable thing that came out of MHP’s discovery process was how different each provider’s note-taking process is. By understanding the various ways providers approach documentation—from completing notes in bulk at the end of the day to documenting concurrently—the leadership team at MHP could more effectively communicate the benefits of Eleos to a diverse group of new users.
2. Know your audience.
Speaking of your audience: Benedetto cautions against a one-size-fits-all approach to communication and change management.
Tailor communications to individual stakeholders.
Remember, there are a lot of different stakeholders when introducing a new software system. It’s not just a technical implementation, and you’ll need to foster buy-in across multiple levels of the organization—from leadership and supervisors to clinicians and IT staff.
While Eleos is certainly helpful in that respect—having learned from a community of 50-plus customers across 24 states—Benedetto says that ultimately, you know your organization best. You understand the communication preferences (and pitfalls) for different segments of your staff, and it’s important to consider those as you create your rollout plan.
Be mindful of language.
“One thing to think about is language,” Benedetto said. “When you’re explaining Eleos and the concept of Augmented Intelligence, be mindful of the words you’re choosing when communicating with different people across the organization, so you can make sure that buy-in gets created.”
For example, Benedetto says leadership is typically drawn to the impact on company finances and reputation. “They want to know about the return on investment, about how this technology is going to position the organization as a leader in digital innovation—more big-picture,” she said.
Clinical staff, on the other hand, are more interested in how the platform will impact their day-to-day work—both in terms of administrative responsibilities and care delivery.
By tailoring their messaging to those different audiences, MHP was able to lay a strong foundation of staff buy-in before they actually put the technology in providers’ hands.
3. Identify your power users.
Some staff members will embrace AI more readily than others—and some will find it more intuitive than others. Keep an eye on usage metrics so you can identify your best users early on.
These “peer champions” can be instrumental in helping lagging adopters get more comfortable with the new technology. So, leverage them for peer training groups or even one-on-one coaching.
Nisheeta Setlur, VP of Customer Success at Eleos Health, also recommends partnering with your AI vendor to capture testimonials—think “hype” videos and quotes—that you can circulate internally to continue building excitement around the technology.
This is one area where your organization’s dedicated Customer Success Manager can be a huge asset, because—as we’ll talk more about below—their number-one goal should be helping you achieve and evangelize the full value of Eleos across your organization.
4. Make training sessions short and sweet.
The goal of any technology training session isn’t just teaching people how to use the platform—it’s also creating the best possible first impression of the platform.
When you train providers on a software like Eleos, most of them will be seeing it for the first time. They might even be seeing AI for the first time—and that can be scary.
That’s why Christina Stewart, Eleos Health’s Training Lead, tries to keep user training sessions as short and simple as possible. In her eyes, there’s no reason to drag out education on a software that’s supposed to be easy to use—and doing so could create the false perception that the technology is more complicated than it really is.
As she mentioned during the webinar, the typical in-person Eleos training lasts about two hours—which she says is a “sweet spot” for several reasons:
- Providers can start using the product the same day they train on it. This keeps the momentum and enthusiasm going and helps users better retain what they’ve learned.
- Provider time is precious. Many staff members have back-to-back client sessions, and pulling them out of their regular schedule for even a couple of hours is a lot to ask. So, it’s important for tech vendors to show that they respect providers’ time. To that end, providing a variety of follow-up resources and self-education materials is also helpful.
- Keeping the actual training piece short ensures that staff have ample time to voice their questions and concerns. Stewart says this is crucial to fostering provider buy-in. “Offer them a safe space while they are learning,” she said, adding that clinical staff members should always feel comfortable speaking up. “The moment clinicians feel you are beating around the bush or not answering their questions, you’ve lost them.”
5. Strive to create lightbulb moments.
Whether it’s during the training itself or afterwards—when providers start to test Eleos during their sessions—Stewart says her ultimate goal is leading users to their personal “lightbulb moment.” By that, she means the moment a provider realizes the breadth of impact Eleos can have not only on their clinical practice, but also on their quality of life.
These moments when the value of the technology “clicks” are invaluable to driving adoption and usage—especially in a field where technology has not historically focused on making providers’ jobs easier.
“All clinicians are going to bring to the table different backgrounds and styles of documentation—different ways they’ve been trained on writing notes,” Benedetto said. “But they can all get to that lightbulb moment of realizing that their documentation can be improved, or realizing how much time a tool like Eleos is going to save them.”
6. Get staff excited about the technology.
One thing we’re known for at Eleos is the energy we bring to each training session—and that enthusiasm is very intentional.
As Stewart explained during the webinar, the environment in which you introduce AI technology to staff is just as important as the quality of training you provide. People are going to put more effort into learning and adopting a tool they are excited about.
So, Stewart and the Eleos crew always bring the fun to each training. They’ve even been known to sing, dance, and break into mid-training jumping jacks. “We like to bring a party with us,” she said.
7. Define shared goals.
Once your team starts using an AI tool like Eleos, it’s important to measure the impact of that usage. And it’s tough to understand the full effect of any new tool without putting some definition around your goals.
So, before you jump into full rollout, your vendor should work with you to set specific goals and key performance indicator (KPI) benchmarks. Then, once you start using the product, your Customer Success Manager should check in regularly to assess your progress toward those goals. In the words of Sam Fotovat, the Director of Customer Success at Eleos, “Our job is to obsess over your outcomes.”
Find your North Star.
At MHP, for example, the leadership team’s number-one goal—their North Star for AI implementation—was to improve care.
“Client care sticks out as one of the biggest pieces we want to focus on as an outcome,” Benedetto said, adding that a tool like Eleos is poised to impact that area by freeing up providers to be more engaged with clients during treatment sessions. “Concurrent documentation is hard. It can feel like you’re not focusing on the client, and it’s visible to the client that you’re typing and focusing on other things. A tool like Eleos gives you the best of both worlds, because you’re able to engage with clients on a different level while also meeting all the documentation requirements.”
Beyond achieving better care outcomes by reducing administrative burdens, the MHP team wanted to positively impact turnover rates and recruitment efforts. Benedetto specifically pointed to intern retention as an area where she believes Eleos holds a lot of promise: “We have a robust intern program, and we consciously made the decision to include interns in our Eleos rollout,” she said. “And that’s because we want to keep them at the end of their internship. They’ve created bonds with clients and staff, and by offering this cutting-edge technology, it’s a way for us to say, ‘Stick with us! We’re a great agency for you to work for!’”
8. Keep a pulse on performance.
Setting goals doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a way to track progress toward them, and your AI vendor should partner with you to complement your internal data collection efforts.
For example, to help MHP measure their success with Eleos, our team tracks a variety of KPIs that feed into MHP’s overarching goals. (It’s worth noting that many customers achieve results well beyond our baseline minimums.) These include:
- Provider activation: We aim for a minimum of 70% of trained providers to actively use Eleos.
- Documentation time savings: We strive to reduce note-writing time by at least 20%.
- Provider satisfaction with Eleos: We want at least 60% of Eleos users to rate our platform positively.
We start collecting—and communicating—this type of data early and often. That way, customers have an idea of where they may need to shift their implementation efforts internally to drive better staff adoption—and our team at Eleos can proactively intervene to provide targeted assistance when necessary.
As Fotovat mentioned during the webinar, every organization is different, which is why it’s crucial for AI vendors to provide personalized implementation support, recognizing that a “blanket approach to adoption” is largely ineffective.
Create a continuous feedback loop.
This is also where the voice of the customer should play a leading role, either through the regular distribution of user surveys or facilitation of live feedback sessions (a.k.a. “office hours”). Furthermore, your vendor should close the loop on that feedback, explaining how they’ve incorporated it into future product enhancements and updates.
While MHP is still in the early stages of their journey with Eleos, Benedetto says all of the efforts explained above have already led to some pretty impressive results. Their achievements include:
- 87% activation rate for trained providers
- 67% reduction in documentation time (from 15 minutes per note to 4.9 minutes per note)
- 91% provider satisfaction with Eleos
- 104 hours of cumulative time saved on documentation
“That is a huge savings of time, with a huge effect on how staff are feeling at the end of the day,” Benedetto said. “We’re so excited to continue moving forward.”