Ten Questions with Jim Skeel

ProfileTell me a little about yourself – your background and your education.

I have a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology from Ball State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychological Science from Ball State University.  I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.  After my Master’s program, I worked for about four months with Ball State as a research assistant and trainer to educate the University of Kuwait social workers about the diagnostics and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I then worked in a private psychiatric hospital and outpatient counseling center for about seven years.  There I provided therapy services in school-based, outpatient, intensive outpatient and residential services.  In the IOP and residential service areas I worked exclusively with children and adolescents.  In the outpatient office I worked with all populations and all disorders.

How long have you worked for Aspire?

Since October 1999 so 14 ½ years.

What positions have you held with Aspire?

I was hired as the Manager of Children’s Service in our Anderson Location (then the Center for Mental Health).  I later took a newly created position of Quality Improvement Director, and after our merger with BehaviorCorp to form Aspire Indiana, I was appointed the Senior Director of Performance and Outcomes.

Describe your current position, including your responsibilities?

My primary role is to promote a quality mindset at all levels.  I Facilitate the development and monitoring of organizational quality indicators, and assist in setting strategy to meet those indicators.  I oversee the compliance program, utilization management, information systems, medical records, electronic medical records, clinical training and supervision, and clinical performance and outcomes.

What does a typical day as a Senior Director of Performance and Outcomes look like? 

Because I’m involved in so many committees, I spend some portion of my day preparing for or responding to committee assignments.  I receive several e-mails a day about issues like policy (mostly exceptions), clarifying recent changes, or questions about providing or billing for services.  More recently, I’ve been coordinating activities to ensure our systems (i.e. IT, EMR, UM, A/R, etc.) are in alignment with and supporting our new initiatives like integrated care, services in school settings, services for the Division of Children’s Services, and the new Medicaid programs –  basically, “other duties as assigned”.  I generally have two to four meetings per day with the Directors of the departments I oversee, internal committees, or project teams.

What in your educational background and work experience prepared you for your current position?

The focus of my Bachelor’s training was in the ability to conduct and interpret research.  I authored a research publication as an undergraduate and participated in the publication of three research projects during my graduate studies.  My Master’s program had a heavy emphasis on the scientist-practitioner model for clinical training.  I had a lot of statistics and research courses that helped develop my ability to interpret data, clinical (or laboratory) findings, and evaluate evidence based practice.  In my early work I enjoyed taking on small quality initiatives for the company I worked for, completing staff training, program development, and records reviews/audits.  Clinical training and experience allows me to be familiar with the training and workflow of clinical providers as well as evaluate the effectiveness of care within a “real-world” setting like Aspire.

If you weren’t working in this field, what would you be doing?

I went to college with plans to be a teacher, but after two field studies classes I changed my major.  I guess I would be a teacher probably in Math or Science.

What is it that drew you to the field of mental health?

In High School, my friends, acquaintances and their parents always complimented me on being a good listener and helpful.  I didn’t think much of it until I took a psychology course in college, which I enjoyed.  The more I learned about the counseling practices in psychology, the more I liked the idea of assisting people one-on-one or in smaller groups at a deeper level.

What impact do you feel your work has had on Aspire and its clients?

Mostly in assisting the support systems to work alongside the clinical systems to provide consistent, efficient and effective workflow to promote clinical outcomes.  Continuously working to keep costs down and quality up allows us to be in a position for health care system changes and reforms, and capitalize on the opportunities that become available during those times.

What things do you do to help you cope with the demands of your job?

Mentally, mostly by humor and making an effort to find what is working well.  If I can find anything funny or humorous in my situation, I try to be the first to notice it.  It’s hard for me to be laughing and feel stressed out.  Also, I find that almost everything we are doing and/or measuring is not going totally wrong or running perfectly.  When I’m looking at data that shows poor performance or opportunity for improvement, I generally make an effort to find what components of that activity are working well.

In terms of leisure time, I enjoy puttering around my house on small jobs.  I generally fix things myself like repairs to the house, mowers, cars, etc.  I like to spend time in the outdoors and with nature.  I’ve volunteered for several years as an assistant coach to my son’s baseball teams.

Jim Skeel is the Senior Director of Performance & Outcomes for Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mr. Skeel, you can learn more about Aspire Indiana at https://www.facebook.com.  You can also follow Mr. Skeel on Twitter @AspireJim.

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