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There are several aspects to consider when designing an academic program for school-aged patients in the mental health treatment environment. In addition to considering the impact your academic program has on your patient treatment outcomes, facilities must also consider the needs of local school districts, parent/guardians, in addition to the treatment facility itself. Academic programs during treatment are not often one-size-fits all; however, here are four key areas to analyze when evaluating the overall quality of your academic program:

  • Defining and reporting on key program success metrics
  • Meeting requirements for specific patient population needs
  • Program administration time and efficiency
  • Program cost

Let’s learn a bit more about each of these areas.

Defining and reporting on key program success metrics

National accrediting bodies such as the Joint Commission, CARF, Council on Accreditation, and state accrediting bodies require education programming to take place in facilities who serve school-aged patients for an extended period of time. In order to meet accreditation standards, facilities must be able to report on key program metrics.

Consider evaluating your current academic program by asking the following questions:

  • Have we established clear key performance indicators for our academic program? If so, what are they?
  • Are we able to report on these key performance indicators on a yearly and quarterly basis?
  • Do we have an established process for receiving input and feedback on our education program from parents/families and program staff?
  • Do we conduct an annual review of the program’s ability to meet these established metrics?

Meeting requirements for specific patient population needs

There are needs for both the patient population and the treatment facility to consider when designing an education program, and the behavioral health treatment environment is very specialized. Therefore, the education program should be designed to meet these specialized needs.

Consider evaluating your current academic program by asking the following questions:

  • Do the teachers working with our patient population have all required certifications to support student academic needs?
  • Do the teachers have specialized training working with students who face mental health needs?
  • Is the academic curriculum designed specifically to support students in a clinical treatment environment? Does the curriculum consider and have the resources for students with varying skill levels and ability?
  • Is the education program engaging and relevant for all students?
  • Is the education program meeting all facility needs? Does it compliment the patient’s clinical schedule?
  • Does your academic program provide services to every student receiving treatment? And are they working on their individual school curriculum?

Program administration time and efficiency

District funding is available in order to provide academic programming during treatment for school-aged patients. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) qualifies students for academic services. However, in order to communicate and receive approval for educational services from each patient’s individual school district there are several administrative requirements that need to be met, which can require extensive resources and time. This daily communication with each patient’s local school district is required in order to obtain schoolwork meet the standards required through the district’s home and hospital regulations.

Consider evaluating your current academic program by asking the following questions:

  • Do you have a process identified to gather a physician signature and parental consent in order to initiate the patient’s participation in the education program if seeking district funding?
  • Do you have a process identified to seek individual schoolwork for each patient? If so, do you have a process identified for documenting academic progress on this work to send back to the child’s school district?
  • Do you have an efficient system for documenting all student data and reporting on the school-aged patients in the program regularly?
  • Are you involved in the hiring process for your program’s teachers? If so, what time is required to support the daily management and professional development of your program’s teacher?

Program cost

Consider all the earlier aspects of your education program first to determine the quality of your hospital education program. Once you have done so, you will want to understand the overall financial cost and impact of your education program.

In order to estimate your education program expenses, add the following costs:

  • Teacher salaries
  • Benefits (estimated 20% of teacher’s salary)
  • Administrative costs (estimated 10% of teacher’s salary)
  • Taxes (estimated 15% of teacher’s salary)
  • Other (estimated 10% of all costs added above)

If you are generating revenue from your education program, subtract the overall revenue from your total expenses (listed above) to have an estimate of the revenue impact of your education program.

After evaluating these four aspects of your academic program what remaining questions do you have? LearnWell partnership consultants work with hospitals and facilities to customize cost-efficient education programs to meet their needs. Contact us to speak with a partnership consultant to learn more today.