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AURA-in-Action Youth Dynamics
8 MIN READ

AURA-in-Action: Building Trauma-Sensitive Software for Youth Dynamics

Learn how Youth Dynamics leverages AURA in delivering their excellent mental health treatment!

We recently wrote a feature about Youth Dynamics, Montana’s largest children’s mental health provider. They’ve served the youth and families of Montana for the last 40 years, delivering a variety of behavioral health services across the state. Sigmund Software has been lucky enough to serve this incredible organization since 2011.

Youth Dynamics is one of our longest-standing customers. They’ve also consistently been one of the most forward-thinking and technologically advanced organizations in the Sigmund community. And they have to be – treating the mental health of kids and teens is one of the most challenging, complex tasks in behavioral health.

Not only do they need robust and dynamic software to accommodate all the varied services they deliver, but they also require an EHR that’s capable of overcoming the inherent challenges of treating a young population. For example, children aren’t always the best reporters of their health, mental health, and life experiences. The organization also has to frequently involve parents, guardians, and external providers in a child’s overall treatment.

We spoke to Moyra Anthony, MSC, MBA, LCSW, Clinical Director for Community Services, to discuss how Youth Dynamics is leveraging AURA to deliver excellent care to the families of Montana.

If you’re curious how one of the nation’s leading mental health organizations takes full advantage of a cutting-edge EHR system, or want to get an idea of what AURA looks like in action, read on!

Configuring Provider Philosophies into Software Solutions

At Sigmund, we pride ourselves on building tailored software solutions for each and every customer. We believe that’s the only way to truly meet their unique needs. 

However, it’s not just about customizing EHR systems to include the functionality and features an organization requires. We strive to configure a solution that incorporates a provider’s philosophies, values, and treatment approaches into their software platform.

After a decade of working together with Youth Dynamics to improve and optimize their software solutions, the version of AURA they use today is a true reflection of their organizational mission and values.

Let’s explore how AURA helps Youth Dynamics make good on its mission and promise to the families of Montana.

Sigmund Software Configuration

Delivering Care Through a Trauma-Sensitive Lens

When it comes to treating children and teens, Youth Dynamics practices a trauma-sensitive approach.

The majority of their patients have endured substantial, and often multiple, instances of trauma. As a result, their staff makes it a point to always be mindful of the trauma their patients have experienced, at every stage of treatment, for each patient encounter. 

“Whether it’s the first person answering the phone, to the person delivering the treatment, we’re aware that trauma exists, and that we need to be sensitive to that,” says Anthony.

By staying true to this approach across the board, Youth Dynamics creates a safe treatment environment that offers Montana’s youth compassionate pathways to healing.

There are several ways that Youth Dynamics has been able to leverage AURA and its functionality to uphold and optimize its trauma-sensitive approach.

Care Coordination

“The access to all the documents is probably the most important feature for any staff member, including myself,” says Anthony.

One of the foundational elements of AURA is an intuitive, automated workflow engine that keeps the patient record updated in real-time. That way, all staff has access to the same, most current information on every patient.

“Being able to access everything that’s in that medical record, being able to go in and read our own clinical assessments, or even assessments that we’ve uploaded from when a patient was in a hospital. We’re able to go in and really review everything that a kiddo has been through. That truly is the most important feature – having everything that a kiddo has gone through that we’ve been able to obtain in one location where anyone can go in and read it.”

In general, this functionality promotes the comprehensive care of each patient, in each patient encounter, because every provider is working off the same information.

In terms of a trauma-sensitive lens, it provides a holistic view of each patient and their experiences. The Youth Dynamics team is equipped with the historical context of a child’s trauma, which informs the best treatment approach to address and navigate the trauma they are carrying in the present.

With this level of care coordination, AURA helps the Youth Dynamics team work together to come up with the right solution for each child and teen that comes into their organization.

Reporting Tools

AURA is designed to capture and report on every single data point in the system. We’re always interested to see how our customers utilize those exhaustive reporting capabilities.

One way that Youth Dynamics leverages this functionality is to constantly reassess and recalibrate the trauma-sensitive lens through which they view and deliver the services they deliver. 

AURA’s reporting tools allow Youth Dynamics to take both a bird’s eye and granular view of their operation. They help Anthony answer questions such as: What populations are we serving? What are the diagnoses we’re seeing the most? What is our clinical perspective and do we need to change the lens that we have?

“That [data] actually helped drive our adoption of a trauma-informed care model this past year,” says Anthony. “Looking at the kiddos that we’re serving, and the incidents of trauma that they had.”

Having that statistical context at their fingertips informs what Youth Dynamics can do as an agency to best serve its populations.

Dynamic Documentation

In addition to the hundreds of out-of-the-box assessments and standard documentation that AURA contains, users can configure custom documentation that fits their unique processes and treatment delivery.

AURA’s documentation suite is another feature that facilitates and bolsters Youth Dynamics’ trauma-sensitive approach. 

They’re able to model foundational documentation to reflect the trauma their population is experiencing.

For example, Youth Dynamics is currently working with the Sigmund team to overhaul their individual treatment plan to suit their trauma-informed care model.

“We’ve worked with you guys to…change the language [of the individual treatment plan] to be more trauma-sensitive and trauma-informed,” says Anthony.

In this way, Youth Dynamics’ trauma-sensitive care model isn’t just a philosophy their staff is upholding, it’s an approach that is quite literally baked into the software they are using to deliver that trauma-informed treatment.

Engaging the Families of Montana

By definition, Youth Dynamics serves children and teens across the state of Montana. However, treatment rarely just involves an individual child or teenager. With much of their population, Youth Dynamics works very closely with the patient’s family. In many cases, the organization actually provides family-wide services that support parents, guardians, or caretakers along with the patient.

Their goal is not to just help individual youth. Rather, Youth Dynamics strives to heal families so that any kid that comes through their doors can return to a healthy, sustainable home environment.

We cover this aspect of the Youth Dynamics mission in more detail in their Sigmund Spotlight feature. In terms of EHR software, AURA offers Youth Dynamics and the families it serves a dynamic, mobile, and virtual care environment where they can work together.

Parents and guardians can manage their child’s care via AURA’s user-friendly Contact Portal. Whether it’s viewing statements or paying balances, scheduling appointments, reviewing assessments and other pertinent treatment information, or messaging with Youth Dynamics staff, the family unit has every chance to be involved in their child’s care.

In addition to the ways that AURA facilitates family participation, Anthony appreciates how the Contact Portal provides a hub for every one of the child’s providers to interact.

“We’re able to add in treatment team members, and even treatment team members that aren’t associated with the agency,” says Anthony.

Even though they are a large, comprehensive treatment operation, Youth Dynamics doesn’t always offer every single service their patients need. As a result, they refer their patients to the external providers in the community whenever needed, or outside the community if necessary.

AURA was designed to accommodate this reality in behavioral health. Every organization cannot provide every service every one of their patients require. Our industry, and the conditions we treat, are simply too complex and varied for that. To ensure that outsourcing certain patient services does not detract from the overall quality or coordination of care, AURA’s virtual care environment can easily incorporate outside providers.

“For example, we can add a child’s pediatrician as a treatment team member,” says Anthony. “So when we’re scheduling an individual treatment plan meeting, we have the entire treatment team in there and can contact all of them right from the Contact Portal. That’s huge.” 

Data-Driven Mental Health Treatment

When running a large-scale, multi-site operation, having control over your data is imperative. AURA’s reporting and analytics tools are some of the most important solutions for Youth Dynamics.

“There is such a wealth of knowledge within AURA for the clinical team,” says Anthony. “From just being able to track progress on an individual treatment plan, to knowing what we’re going to put on our strategic plan for the next year, and everything in between.”

Youth Dynamics is always thinking ahead, and how they can consistently improve their processes and service delivery. AURA helps provide statistical and analytical context that informs every change they make.

“For me, the data piece is huge, especially for our strategic planning sessions. It helps us look at what we’re doing well, what we’re not doing well…” says Anthony.

Beyond organizational improvement, AURA’s reporting tools also help Youth Dynamics navigate the realities of compliance in behavioral health.

“Everything that we track helps us meet the admission requirements for the state of Montana and our CARF accreditation standards.”

Youth Dynamics was first awarded a CARF accreditation in 2008. Sigmund’s reporting solutions have helped them retain and renew their CARF accreditation since 2011. Youth Dynamics currently holds a Three-Year Accreditation by CARF International in the areas of Care Management/Services Coordination: Mental Health (Children & Adolescents), Day Treatment: Mental Health (Children & Adolescents), Intensive Family-Based Services: Mental Health (Children & Adolescents), Intensive Outpatient Treatment: Integrated: AO/MH (Children & Adolescents), Out-of-Home Treatment: Mental Health (Children & Adolescents), and Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health (Children & Adolescents).

Compassionate Care by Way of Compassionate Management

One of Anthony’s favorite aspects of working at Youth Dynamics is the people she gets to work with. If you listen to the way Anthony speaks about her organization and the people in it, it’s abundantly clear that Youth Dynamics offers a positive, collaborative environment to its staff.

Anthony explains that Youth Dynamics operates like a large family. They strive to support and understand each other and work as a team to best serve the families of Montana. By cultivating a family-like atmosphere for its staff, Youth Dynamics is even more suited and prepared to deliver the family-oriented care their patients need.

As the Clinical Director of this very large family, Anthony is equally concerned about her staff’s wellbeing as she is about that of her patients. She takes staff oversight seriously; she understands that her people deliver the best quality treatment when they feel supported and empowered in their roles. 

AURA provides an important oversight capability for managers and directors like Anthony. She routinely uses several handy reporting features in AURA that help her take a look at the status and performance of staff from an overall agency perspective, as well as snapshots for individual offices.

“For me, the ‘caseload by staff’ report is huge,” says Anthony. “I’m able to go in and really make sure that we’re not overloading individual staff members with cases.”

AURA empowers Anthony to monitor the workloads of her staff across the entire agency in real-time. It may seem like a small thing, but we’re proud that we’ve built a software platform that not only accommodates the way our real, human customers want to do their jobs, but accentuates and optimizes it as well. 

Luckily for the Youth Dynamics team and the population it serves, Anthony wants to do her job with compassion.

“Another important one is our ‘assessment batteries.’ I like to go into those and make sure that we don’t need to update those – those are really important.”

In AURA, assessment batteries help users organize assessments or groups of assessments. Essentially, it allows organizations to determine which shared data collection tool is needed at specific points in time in a patient’s treatment.

From an oversight perspective, the assessment battery functionality is another way that AURA helps Anthony empower and support her staff. By making sure the batteries are always updated to include any new assessments and do not contain old assessments, the Youth Dynamics team can confidently administer those batteries when needed, which in turn contributes to efficient and accurate patient care.

When serving over 2700 children and teens each year, it’s features like this that help Anthony keep Youth Dynamics’ treatment delivery a well-oiled, compassionate, trauma-sensitive machine.

Experience the Power of AURA!

Over the last two decades, the Sigmund team has worked internally, and in concert with our customers, to build software solutions that account for the varied and highly specialized needs of behavioral health organizations.

AURA, Sigmund’s enterprise EHR software platform, is the culmination of that internal development and invaluable feedback from our customers in the field. 

Our mission is to create tailored software solutions for as many organizations as possible. With a number of former behavioral professionals on staff, we understand how an EHR can hinder user experience and patient care. However, with 17 years of experience building EHR systems under our belt, we also know how modern and dynamic software can truly transform an organization. 

Using our powerful tech as the foundation, we’re now at a place where we can configure a provider’s technical needs and their more intangible philosophies into their unique software solutions.

If you’d like to learn more about how we do that, we’d love to talk to you about it!

If you have any questions for us about our software solutions, you can contact a knowledgeable team member here!

And if you’re ready to experience the power of AURA, you can request a live software demonstration with our team here!