Behavioral Health Workforce Development Challenges in the Digital Health Era

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Topic: This column describes challenges for hiring, training, and supervising psychiatric rehabilitation service providers for positions that involve the use of digital health technology. Purpose: Adoption and implementation of any new technology or technique requires workforce development. This article outlines considerations for policymakers, funders, and service agency administrators as digital health technologies become more widespread. Sources Used: The article discusses issues based on professional experience of the authors and available literature. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: The literature on adoption of innovations in general, and the adoption of psychiatric evidence-based practices in particular, indicates that funding and adoption of new techniques and technologies are not adequate to ensure full and sustained implementation. The use of any new treatment or technology requires training and other supports to ensure that users have the competencies needed to make it work and that the workplace supports its use. As new digital health technologies become available, considerations of their cost and effectiveness need to include an examination of the required competencies of the service providers who will use them and the added cost of developing, enhancing, and maintaining those competencies. Specific attitudes, knowledge, and skills will be relevant to hiring decisions. Relevant preservice and on-the-job training opportunities, technical assistance, and supervision will be needed. Implementation needs to be monitored, not assumed, and the rights of the people who use technology-supported services must be fully protected.

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