I’ve been reading a terrific book recently that is recommended by Bill Gates – Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress. In this book, Steven Pinker makes compelling arguments about how the world has become better against every single metric that matters for human wellbeing. Our world is healthier, happier, richer, safer, and overall better than it has been in any prior period. All this while brilliant discoveries and inventions are making progress to reverse the looming climate change catastrophe (i.e. a single iPhone now replaces about 40 products that we used to consume and then discard).
We are wired to think about how bad things are. News cycles focus on the stories that pull at the heart strings or shock audiences. This is what drives viewership and good ratings, but is often not reflective of the bigger picture we should be looking at to think more rationally about what is happening in the world. You’ll never see a headline that says “world famine has gradually declined over the past 50 years thanks to incremental improvements in farming technology and processes.”
So why does this matter?
It matters because things are getting better. People are getting smarter and we’re solving problems to make society better off. When we think about the mental health system in Canada, it’s so easy to talk about the headline grabbing issues such as “an Ottawa family waits a year for mental health services” or “families struggle to navigate mental health services”. However, we need to think about the other side of the coin.
These are tough challenges, but they also represent progress and opportunity. Waitlists mean that people are actually reaching out for support, and we actually have evidence based programs that work for kids and families. Struggling to navigate a system means there is actually some sort of system or infrastructure in place that give people an opportunity for care. In both cases, this reflects amazing progress relative to where we were just a few decades ago, and that’s worth celebrating for an important reason.
Recognizing progress gives hope. At a recent ‘United Way of Greater Toronto Presents The Walrus Talks’ event, Hugh Segal suggested that hope is essential to success, and that we, as a society, need to develop ways to keep hope alive.
It reminds us that if we continue to work hard, work smart, and continue to push boundaries, we can continue making incremental progress that collectively creates huge change. It reminds us that everything is not horrible and that a prognosis for a mental health issue today is far better than it was 20 years ago. In addition, it gives us hope that we haven’t plateaued, and we can continue to strengthen treatment strategies and system design to improve mental health outcomes just as we’ve done for the past 50 years for every metric of human wellbeing.
We have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a long, tough journey of incremental changes. Most change occurs below the surface of what most people see, but it’s powerful nonetheless. We need to celebrate and recognize every incremental change. In doing that, we learn that change has happened in the past and change is continuing to happen. We’ll be able to look behind us and realize that the incremental changes we made over a long period of time made everyone better off.
Remain optimistic, ask tough questions and then answer tough questions with smart solutions. That’s how we’ll continue to incrementally improve mental health outcomes for kids in Canada, just as we always have.
I’m so proud of the progress our team has made at Capitalize for Kids over the past quarter. We’ve wrapped up three projects, advanced the pilot of one, and kicked off implementation of another. We’re also launching some fantastic new partnerships and projects that will continue to push boundaries on how we think about capacity and design solutions to help more kids. See below for the latest updates on our work!
I would also like to welcome our newest Consulting partner to the Capitalize for Kids family – RBC Strategy and Transformation Services (STS). In addition to this partnership, Michelle Bashir (Senior Director, RBC STS) has joined our Advisory Board and Impact Committee of the Board to support in the ongoing evolution of our impact work. Welcome Michelle and RBC!
Director of Consulting, Capitalize for Kids
Director of Consulting, Capitalize for Kids
A significant funder of this work.
We’re proud to announce that we have wrapped up implementation of our solutions at The George Hull Centre for Children and Families. We had two work streams in place to address client no-shows and time spent on report writing. Here are the outcomes.
We are thrilled to report that we have concluded implementation of the appointment reminder solution at The George Hull Centre for Children and Families, and there are now over 70 clinicians and staff using the solution. We’re near completion of documenting our process and tools developed in the design of the solution for dissemination to service providers across Canada. You’ll be able to see that document in full in the coming months.
Reduction in appointment no-shows.
Appointments used more effectively per year.
In health care value created.
Return on our investment.
Now that the solution has been implemented, Capitalize for Kids has committed to fund the appointment reminder technology for three years at a cost of ~$13,000 annually. We will be working with George Hull in that time to acquire a donor or partner who will continue to fund the system, using the observed outcomes and benefits to kids in the community as the business case for support. In addition, we will be meeting with George Hull every four months to analyze the performance of the appointment reminder solution, and make tweaks based on data-informed insights (i.e. subtle changes to wording in reminders, working with clients who consistently cancel without sufficient notice to understand what’s going on, etc…) to ensure we continue to achieve the best results possible.
As mentioned in our previous report, The Boston Consulting Group led an evaluation of report writing times. This evaluation concluded that report writing times were not impacted by circumstances such as case complexity, hours of service, or service type. Controlled for quality, it was those clinicians who had the lowest elapsed time between report writing sessions, and those who wrote their reports within 1-2 working sessions who wrote their reports the quickest.
With these insights, George Hull implemented key changes that will enable clinicians to spend less time writing reports without reducing report quality, and spend more time doing what they do best – helping kids. Here are the key changes they made:
- They have booked report writing days in which clinicians will be expected to only work on reports (no appointments or meetings).
- The organization has committed to improving access to mobile technology. They will prioritize buying laptops so clinicians can work from home to write reports. This will allow most clinicians to stay focused on one task at a time.
- Managers are reviewing clinician reports with a focus on improving quality and efficiency. Staff who are struggling will be supported more closely.
- A two-day report writing workshop was undertaken in order to better prepare clinicians for pertinent report structures, identify content relevant to treatment protocols, and develop structure appropriate for given readership.
“Our direct hours keep going up and our waitlist continues to decrease. This is really exciting. I think it is terrific that we have enhanced the clinicians’ productivity and efficiency and at the same time, created solutions that create better working conditions!”
Director, Community Clinic – The George Hull Centre for Children and Families
Fewer hours spent on report writing annually by clinicians.
Improved report quality
Improved wellbeing and happiness of clinicians
We are increasing provincial capacity for mental health and addictions care in Nova Scotia by establishing networks of care for high priority mental health issues. This enables clinicians across the province to build their knowledge, skills, and ability to support kids with complex mental health needs.
In partnership with McKinsey, we have designed a provincial clinician capability building program and podcast called Clinician Cast: Mental Health and Addictions Treatment Network. Here’s how it works:
- Each month, we select a high priority topic in child and adolescent mental health and addictions.
- An expert will host a 45-minute webinar on the topic to share best practices, and answer questions from clinicians across Nova Scotia.
- Webinars will be edited into podcasts and written summaries for ongoing learning for clinicians in Nova Scotia and across Canada.
The first pilot webinar was hosted on June 19th. The feedback was extraordinary, and clinicians told us how valuable the content was to improve their treatment techniques and practice. Given the overwhelming success of the first pilot webinar and podcast, we will work with IWK to grow this learning platform and build out accessible networks of experts for clinicians to connect with to strengthen their skills. We will be transitioning webinars and podcasts into monthly events.
The next scheduled webinar will take place on Oct. 31st and will focus on psychosis in youth. Our November webinar will focus on eating disorders (date tbd).
This program will improve quality of care, and therefore improve long term health outcomes for children and families. The exact number of kids impacted will be reported in the coming months as we strengthen our understanding of the number of clinicians across the province who will benefit from this platform, and the number of kids they treat with the mental health issues discussed in the webinars / podcasts.
We worked with Kids Help Phone to launch a Project Management Office and operationalize their strategic priorities. This positions them to consistently change and adapt to the evolving and increasingly complex needs of kids across Canada.
We have officially finalized Kids Help Phone’s goals and initiatives, and launched the Project Management Office (PMO). The PMO is working with the executives to support timely execution of strategic initiatives and ensure they are delivered with high quality.
Capitalize for Kids will check in with Kids Help Phone on a monthly basis to evaluate the performance of the PMO, and assess the organization’s progress against its strategic initiatives. If issues arise, they will be escalated accordingly, and we will continue to work with them to refine their project management process and ensure that the organization is performing at the highest level.
Time saved from more efficient project management processes
Improved ability of Kids Help Phone to meet the needs of the kids it serves across Canada
Kids Help Phone positioned to achieve an ambitious goal of engaging 3.5 million kids annually by 2021.
We are helping Yorktown streamline their core HR and Finance processes. This will unlock additional administrative and program staff time to better serve the current and future demand for Yorktown’s services.
RBC Strategy and Transformation Services did amazing work to analyze Yorktown’s HR and Finance processes and make recommendations on opportunities to streamline and reduce the time burden of these functions. A big component of these recommendations include implementing a cloud-based digital HR and finance system. We are now in the process of completing our due diligence on a shortlist of technology vendors and ensuring that strong change management principles are applied throughout to enable smooth organization-wide implementation.
1000+ hours (50%)
Annual reduction in time spent for administrative staff on core HR and Finance processes
Increase in the number of kids receiving care from freed up staff time.