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Rethinking business practices in addiction

June 6, 2012
by Kim Johnson
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SAAS/NIATx conference features leaders in health reform, organizational change
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 We live in an exciting time for substance abuse and mental health treatment services. The changes that are under way offer great opportunities, but organizations need to rethink all aspects of how they do business in order to thrive in a rapidly changing environment. That’s why this month’s SAAS (State Associations of Addiction Services) Annual Conference and NIATx Summit (June 19-22, New Orleans Marriott) is dedicated to rethinking the business model of addiction and mental health services.

This year’s plenary speakers include some of the nation’s leading experts in organizational change, healthcare reform and leadership. A federal leadership panel, featuring Pamela Hyde of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and David Mineta of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), will share the latest on healthcare reform.

NIATx Director Dave Gustafson and Ed Kopetsky, CIO of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, will offer insights on the importance of our customers and their families. Herman Boone, who coached and integrated the winning T.C. Williams high school football team as portrayed in Disney’s “Remember the Titans,” will share his story, an inspiring lesson in leadership and team building.


The first and most important NIATx principle, “Understand and involve the customer,” always drives the SAAS/NIATx conference program. Last year’s conference attendees told us they wanted workshops that give them great ideas and that outline the steps needed to put those ideas into place in their own organizations. That’s why each of the more than 40 workshops is a “how-to” that offers attendees an action plan for implementing a great idea as soon as they return to their offices.

For providers whose funding has come mainly from state and federal grants, we are offering workshops such as “How to Create a Billing System and Improve Your Collections” and “How to Add Revenue Streams.” Providers who have added contracts with third-party payers to their payment mix might want to sink into one or more of the conference’s “deep dive” sessions focused on marketing, workforce development, or finances.

In addition to organized networking during the conference, we’re offering something extra this year (what they call a “lagniappe” in New Orleans). Attendees can look forward to a cruise on the Natchez Riverboat, with a buffet dinner, live entertainment, and the chance to meet up with other attendees. The cruise is included in the full conference registration fee.

We’re looking forward to another exciting event where behavioral healthcare leaders can connect, share ideas, and help prepare the field for the future. For more information or to register, please visit


Kim Johnson is Deputy Director of NIATx. Her e-mail address is