Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

McSilver Institute for Poverty, Policy, and Research at the New York University Silver School of Social Work

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

April 2017

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

October 2013 – March 2016

Mental health clinics are often the first intervention for New Yorkers with mental illness—offering accessible treatment to low- and moderate-income patients and those with limited health insurance coverage.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity Act, New York State’s mental health clinics became solely dependent on managed care organizations for payment. Consequently, mental health clinics were expected to move toward a value-based payment system, which relies on evidence-based practices and validated tools that assess efficacy and outcomes.

To ensure effective implementation of this transition, NYHealth awarded a grant to New York University’s McSilver Institute for Poverty, Policy, and Research. Through this grant, McSilver aimed to equip mental health organizations in New York State with effective tools to assess clinical processes and outcomes, thereby improving the quality of mental health care and reducing costs.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Created a database of 365 clinical treatment measures that can be used to diagnose and screen for a behavioral health condition or to monitor treatment progress;
  • Generated considerable interest in and use of the database among mental health clinics and behavioral health agencies statewide, including the following results:
    • To date, the database has had nearly 29,000 page views and more than 2,000 new and returning users, and the measures have been viewed nearly 12,000 times.
    • To date, 250 agencies have registered to use the database, of which 149 are located outside of New York City and 101 are in New York City.
    • A two-part webinar on value-based payment and the children’s health care system, hosted by McSilver in partnership with the United Hospital Fund, had more than 600 representatives from 217 behavioral health agencies participate;
  • Assessed the capacity of the State’s mental health clinics and behavioral health agencies to manage and evaluate utilization and outcomes data, which found that:
    • Providers, managed care organizations, and other stakeholders need to improve their organizational capacity to use the existing data embedded in their electronic health records.
    • Before these organizations can begin to collect new data and integrate standardized outcome measures, they first need to better understand their client population and the services offered to them; and
  • Developed a set of standardized reports that agencies can use to quickly and accurately get a breakdown of their clientele, types of services provided (generally and specific to each diagnosis), and types of insurance received. McSilver trained 63 behavioral health agencies on using the reports.

By the close of the grant period, the project became fully sustainable. Sustainability was achieved through a broad dissemination of the standardized reports; maintenance of and improvements to the database; and integration of the project’s findings and new tools to the network of organizations that received technical assistance from McSilver. In addition to the grant’s impact on behavioral health agencies, policymakers are now equipped with a model for developing meaningful outcome metrics and moving toward a value-based payment system.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A