Partner Perspectives: David Swann, MTM Services

The National Council sat down with MTM Services senior integrated healthcare consultant David Swann, to take a look back at 2023.

What’s one thing in the mental health and substance use field that you think deserved more attention in 2023?

With many organizations becoming Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) and others receiving alternative payment methods in exchange for outcomes and results, our attention should be on providing observable and measurable results in the care that we deliver. This change to results will incentivize providers to pursue the most rapid and effective treatments for their clients. New and emerging treatments — or even a hybrid approach of new and old — could be more effective for people with behavioral health conditions.

Looking around at trends in other industries or topics, what’s something the mental health and substance use field could stand to learn from other fields?

Producing quality results is the key to successful business ventures, and when the product is effective the industry flourishes. I like to use other health care comparisons: When you think about reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and weight to reduce chronic disease, we have tools that work for these and they are used by people who accept the goal and the intervention.

One of the greatest challenges the mental health and substance use field is facing right now is workforce shortages. How does MTM Services think about this challenge and its role in helping to address it?

Workforce retention and recruitment has been an ongoing need for most of our organizational clients. Our solutions are divided between retention and recruitment and are customized for each organization. A central theme that we have seen in this work is that rewarding work both supports retention and encourages recruitment. We always begin with an honest inventory of what is rewarding and engaging to current staff and what is attractive and encouraging for potential staff.

What is one initiative that is coming up for MTM Services that most excites you?

Any time that we improve access to care for a population and develop providers and services to deliver it — that’s exciting for us. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Medicare have expanded behavioral health services, both in person and virtually, to their beneficiaries over the past five years. In January, we saw the expansion of licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists being able to directly enroll as Medicare providers. Many enrolled ahead of the launch and the Medicare beneficiaries will be winners with greater access. This is quite possibly the largest increase in access that I have seen since Medicaid began enrolling providers and adding services to a continuum of care in many states in the mid-1980s.

If you weren’t doing this work, what would you be doing?

It would be in health care, likely pediatrics. However, my 41-year career in behavioral health is perfect for me, and many people were placed in my life to guide me. I am forever thankful for their influence, coaching and guidance. They know who they are! I encourage all readers to help others find their purpose and mission.