The Center’s other MDS projects focus on individual-level behavioral health workforce data collection; however, this project created an additional instrument targeted to the organization-level that assesses workforce issues by provider organization.
The purpose of this project was to develop an organizational-level MDS to collect data from behavioral health organizations on all of their employed and contracted workers. Data elements include workforce size, composition, and diversity; services provided; rural vs. urban setting; recruitment/retention factors; capacity assessments; workforce development initiatives; and education/licensure requirements for providers, among others.
One pressing challenge which the behavioral health workforce faces is the lack of valid and accessible data to adequately inform workforce projections and address supply concerns. The Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center (BHWRC) had previously developed a Minimum Data Set (MDS) for individual health workforce employees to complete. A complementary MDS was developed by the BHWRC to increase standardized data collection amongst behavioral health organizations. BHWRC staff conducted a literature review of grey and empirical literature to inform the development of the Organizational MDS, along with receiving feedback from partner Consortium members and experts. The Organizational MDS included three question themes: organizational characteristics, workforce characteristics, and payment mechanisms for services. After the MDS was developed, BHWRC staff conducted semi-structured key informant interviews with behavioral health practitioners and organizational leadership to collect feedback on the question themes, logic, terminology, and ways to improve the MDS instrument.
The key-informant interviews highlighted several important concepts related to workforce research and data collection efforts. These interviews stressed the importance of the Organizational MDS as a means to accurately determine the size of the non-licensed occupations within the behavioral health workforce. Additionally, the Organizational MDS could be helpful in understanding the differential factors that impact staffing patterns and projections of workforce need, particularly amongst occupations where churn and workforce mobility is particularly acute. Future projects will focus on implementation strategies which can be undertaken, in conjunction with the individual MDS, for utilizing the Organizational MDS data themes are collected as part of a standardized data collection effort.