Remember Radio Shack? It was once the go-to source for retail electronics until it crumbled in the face of competition and declared bankruptcy in 2015. In contrast, consider today’s thriving Apple Store where people go not just to shop or have their iPhones and Macs fixed, but simply to hang out and enjoy the experience. What is Apple doing that Radio Shack didn’t? And what lessons does that hold for those providing specialty care to people with chronic conditions and complex support needs?
In his presentation, “From Radio Shack To The Apple Store For Behavioral Health Delivery” at the OPEN MINDS Integration Summit: New Models For Primary Care, Behavioral Health & Social Service Integration during the 2020 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute, Donald Parker, LCSW, president of the Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic, pointed out what Radio Shack and traditional specialty service provider organizations have in common. Over time, Radio Shack narrowed its product lines, made bad financial and leadership decisions, and remained a brick-and-mortar store without leveraging the online revolution in retail. In contrast, the Apple Store invested significantly in innovation and technology for product differentiation and a superior customer experience. The Apple Store developed a distinguishing brand that lifted it above the commodity realm.
Mr. Parker said it all boils down to one thing, “All of us are working in a business model that is well past its time.” Like Radio Shack, most mental health centers look and operate in the same way they did when they opened their doors decades ago, lamented Mr. Parker. His organization, however, went the Apple route and continues to see results. Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic was laser-focused on doing “new and better things for consumers,” he said. So what has Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic done differently?
Carrier Health, the original behavioral health services organization, merged into the larger health system Hackensack Meridian Health in 2018 (see Carrier Clinic & Hackensack Meridian Health To Merge, Expand Addiction Treatment). Since that time, the organization created New Jersey’s first urgent care center (see Hackensack Meridian Health & Carrier Clinic Merge, Will Create First New Jersey Urgent Care Center For Psychiatric Emergencies) and a long-term care partnership (see Hackensack Meridian Health Partners With Prospect Heights Care Center, Regent Heights Care Center & West Caldwell Care Center To Enhance Long-Term Subacute Care In New Jersey). It received a $30 million grant to assess patterns and vulnerabilities in genetics that will help the team eventually work toward better outcomes. By partnering with medical schools to create internships, Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic has created a steady stream of new ideas as well as residents and fellows to prompt, support, and help facilitate new approaches to care. Innovation is baked into the organization’s business plan.
As a result, the organization operates in more than 500 locations and includes 17 hospitals, 12 surgery centers, 15 long-term care and assisted living centers, ambulance services and air transportation, six inpatient and outpatient behavioral health facilities, 10 fitness and wellness centers, home care and Hospice, 48 Convenient Care locations, more than 340 physician practices, a school of medicine, and a center for discovery and innovation. For more on the system’s evolution, see Mr. Parker’s presentation on mergers and acquisitions: Best Practices For Non-Profit Health & Human Service Organizations – A Centerstone & OPEN MINDS Collaboration
Mr. Parker attributes Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic’s success to three factors – investing in innovation, creating better experiences for consumers, and optimizing technology. “A Swiss Army Knife approach to care delivery” has helped the team expand service lines and improve access to care so consumers have an Apple Store-like experience when they visit Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic sites. For example, recognizing that most consumers who present to emergency departments with mental health issues go to the back of the line, Mr. Parker’s team is creating an alternative urgent care center across the street from the emergency room to normalize the experience and ensure people get the care they need when and where they need it. That approach not only ensures faster care, it lowers costs. Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic also has a new child psychiatric facility.
An agile business model allows the organization to respond to market needs and take an “Apple Store approach” to behavioral health by optimizing technology wherever possible to streamline the experience, Mr. Parker explained. The organization is infusing innovation into everyday operations. For example, they are testing an acoustical chair that reduces agitation in consumers presenting with mental health issues in urgent care settings. They also are including stimulation of the hypothalamus for consumers presenting with substance use disorders to help the body reacclimate instead of relying solely on traditional detox approaches. This type of innovation is increasingly important because, as Mr. Parker said, “mental health is at the table” for a larger discussion now.
How can other behavioral health organizations preempt a Radio Shack ending? How can they build the Apple Store experience for those seeking care? Start by reassessing your business model, advises Mr. Parker. And take a look at these resources in the OPEN MINDS industry library:
- Who Do You Need To Lead An Agile Organization?
- For ‘Agile’ Organizations, Change Management IS Performance Management
- Will We Be Relevant Next Year?
- Your Organization Is Ready, Are You?
- Planning For Your Strategic Advantage
- Best Practice Performance Management—The Key To Sustainability & Success
- Are You A Change Agent Leader? Take The Test
- Meeting The Innovation Challenge In Health & Human Services: Building A Nimble Management Team To Respond To Opportunities In A Value-Based Market
- It Takes Courage
- Coming Up With The Next Big Thing
For more, join us on June 2 at The 2020 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute for the keynote address, Innovation By Design: Capturing Value In Healthcare led by Carl Clark, M.D., president and chief executive officer, Mental Health Center of Denver.