Three Takeaways From NatCon 2024 | Concord Technologies

Three Takeaways From NatCon 2024

By Rupali Katole, MBBS, MBA, Product Manager


Concord Technologies recently spent a few days in St. Louis for NatCon 2024, the must-attend show for behavioral health providers. Given the rapid pace of technological advances in care delivery and overall operations, exhibitors and attendees were focused on innovations concerning data delivery and usage. A few topics were mentioned frequently, so we wanted to share with you what we were hearing in our conversations with providers:

AI in Healthcare

Advances in AI technology continue to roll out practically on the hour. What does it mean for behavioral health?

One area that is getting a lot of attention is the ability to use Large Language Model processing to capture voice conversations (such as between provider and patient) for input directly into records, or to encapsulate that conversation into a shorter summary of the visit.

Of interest to therapists and other front-line care delivery personnel is the possibility of analysis around who’s doing more of the talking in a therapy session. The phrase “sentiment analysis” is coming up as a way to measure how providers (or chatbots, or avatars) can improve not just information capture, but also their listening skills, via AI.

Easing Intake & Referral Processing Pain

AI also continues to dominate the conversation around back-office functions such as data delivery, analytics, routing, and storage. Specifically, how it can support document classification, data extraction, and data repackaging into such repositories as a Continuity of Care Document, or CCD, as those become more widely used.

Behavioral health providers are eager to find concrete, measurable ways to deal with administrative burden, increase patient engagement, surface insights from patient data and improve operations. And they are doing so, as has long been the case, with fewer resources — the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration predicts a 62% increase in demand for behavior health services, by 2046, but a 13% decline in the total, full-time equivalent healthcare staff.

To maximize effectiveness, providers are pursuing the challenge of data overload in two ways:

  • the large-scale problem of moving a flood of data through the intake and referrals process — how to get documents imported faster, with less manual processing, and into the hands of clinical teams and other users more efficiently; and
  • the more granular efforts involved to accomplish that larger goal through such concrete steps as integrations with FHIR, direct messaging applications, and CCDs.

In particular, providers want to tackle the logjam that is intake. The longer it takes to process a referral, the longer that patient waits for care. The wave of documents, coupled with the need to make a yes or no decision about accepting that patient in minutes, also leads to staff burnout and turnover. A solution that streamlines the process is appealing to front-like workers and administrators alike.

That’s why companies offering solutions across the board are finding an audience willing and eager to hear what they have to say. Behavioral health providers need these solutions to meet their goals of operational and patient care excellence, and also to ward off danger. A misplaced, or overlooked, document can result in negative outcomes and even potential lawsuits.

Interestingly, though, the rush to AI is not absolute. Many in the behavioral health space are still leery of moving too far into the use of AI-driven technology for actual, direct patient care.

Can it talk to my EHR?

Purchasing an EHR can be a multimillion-dollar decision and come with a lengthy contract. Making sure that system can connect with a cloud fax provider, among other third-party entities, is important for optimum value. That’s especially true in behavioral health, where budgets often are much smaller and tighter than with their acute care counterparts.

A lot of our conversations at NatCon focused on what Concord is doing with FHIR integration, CCDs, direct messaging and much more — and how it all plays together to achieve maximum interoperability.

The bottom line? A great experience within your third-party product, whatever it might be, loses value if it cannot integrate with your EHR. No one has ever wanted to do the same work in two places, then merge it. That certainly isn’t going to change.

Behavioral health providers have more data than ever. Their goal is to reduce manual workloads, improve operations and, most importantly, help boost patient outcomes and satisfaction. At Concord we are offering solutions for those challenges now, and will continue to evolve them going forward, to further our clients’ goals as well as those of the broader industry.

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