Harnessing Innovation to Help Psychology Thrive

These are exciting times to be a psychologist!  What a whirlwind these first few months have been as I started my term as President-Elect of MPA.

The year began with a flurry of passionate activity among psychologists as the Minnesota law requiring all healthcare providers to be using an interoperable EHR went into effect.  In an effort to respond and listen, volunteers within MPA organized a panel of speakers for our annual convention on this topic with plenty of time for audience interaction.  What a joy it was to witness such a large gathering of Minnesota psychologists last weekend taking time to give voice to their concerns about the changing healthcare landscape and the impact these changes are having on the way we practice.

Earlier in March, several of the volunteers in leadership positions within MPA attended the State Leadership Conference (SLC) hosted by the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) in Washington, DC.  This year’s theme was “Practice Innovation,” and the message I came away with from that experience was stated succinctly by Katherine Nordal, the Executive Director of APAPO:  “Now is not the time for panic; now is the time for action!”   The question she asked in her opening speech is one I believe we all should begin asking ourselves:  How can we as psychologists harness innovation to improve the quality of our services?  I will add this question:  How can we harness innovation to create thriving business models that preserve independent psychology practices?

One of the break-out sessions I attended at this conference asked participants to think big and act boldly.  I came away from that session feeling so very hopeful about the future of small independent psychology practices.  As someone who has been in private practice since 1996, I too have experienced anxiety about the future of private practice while witnessing changes brought by new healthcare laws.  At SLC I heard many stories told by psychologists from other states who are finding innovative business models that are exciting!  My hope is to bring this information and these ideas back to Minnesota so that we too can begin to think big and act boldly.  I am feeling hopeful about the work ahead of us as we begin to move away from more traditional practice models and toward innovative practice models that ultimately will be good for us AND good for our patients.

As I heard repeatedly at SLC, the world of health care is changing with or without us.  I refuse to let psychologists be left behind in the changes we are witnessing.  And so I ask you, how can all of us be supportive of each other as we navigate these changes together, allowing us to remain in practice, and guiding our transitions to business models that are both financially thriving and professionally rewarding?

My challenge to you:  Think creatively about the tremendous opportunities ahead of us as psychology is integrated into primary care.  Daydream about the ways that we, as psychologists, can impact the changing health care landscape.  What would it be like if every visit to a primary care physician includes encouragement to see a mental health provider?  Imagine the kinds of preventive services that psychologists can be paid to develop and implement that will be embraced by the health care community.  Think creatively; act boldly!

My promise to you:  I will work to keep PSYCHOLOGY and PSYCHOLOGISTS prominent in the emerging innovations that inevitably will rise out of the Affordable Care Act so that together we can shape and embrace a vibrant future for the practice of psychology in Minnesota.

Robin McLeod, Ph.D., L.P., is the 2015 MPA President-Elect. She founded and owns a small private practice behavioral health specialty clinic with two locations: Woodbury and St. Paul.  You may email her at [email protected].  Her websites are:  http://www.cpwmn.com and http://www.cpspmn.com.

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