SVSU prof strives to improve mental health care delivery

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A Saginaw Valley State University professor is working to impact mental health care for patients by studying how solving bottlenecks can help reduce wait times in mental health facilities .

Danilo Sirias received a $245,000 grant over two years from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for his project, which he will continue in collaboration with two clinics that provide mental health services in the Great Lakes Bay Area, Child & Family Services of Saginaw and Family & Children’s Services of Mid-Michigan.

“Access to mental and behavioral health services has become more restricted. Through this project, we intend to demonstrate how clinics can adjust their care delivery models to improve access,” said Sirias. “I am grateful to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for choosing my project. This type of funding makes it possible to pursue research projects that can benefit the community at large.

Sirias’ project consists of designing, testing and implementing a care delivery model. Additionally, Sirias will use the experience gained to develop an online course that will be available – at no cost – to mental health professionals in Michigan.

In exploratory conversations with mental health care providers in the Great Lakes Bay Area, Sirias found that long wait times to see a counselor negatively impact access to help. The innovative care delivery model proposed by Sirias involves creating operational mechanisms, or “buffers,” to ensure that clinicians are able to devote sufficient time to tasks that only they can perform.

The proposed care delivery model is based on Sirias’ research related to improving the performance of health care systems, which he discussed in his book “Crush the Bottleneck: Fixing Patient Flow for Better Care (and a Better Bottom Line)”, which he co-wrote with Christopher Strear.

Its care delivery model provides a structure that allows clinics to operate effectively. SVSU will provide training and coaching to behavioral health clinic staff so that they can effectively apply the model. SVSU will share successes with other clinics so they can also implement the model.

Sirias joined the SVSU Faculty of Management in 2001. He holds a Ph.D. in business administration and a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Memphis, as well as a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the National University of Engineering in his home country of Nicaragua.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and well-being of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of health care, with a focus on children and the elderly. More information can be found at mihealthfund.org.

SVSU is one of 18 organizations that received behavioral health grants from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund in 2022.

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