The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of behavioral health, senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Sara Litvak, CEO of Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, has been named a 2023 Future Leader by Behavioral Health Business.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for behavioral health patients, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
Litvak sat down with BHB to talk about quality control, outcomes and the future of autism services in the behavioral health field.
BHB: What drew you to this industry?
Litvak: I’ve seen the impact that ABA can have on a patient with autism: It is drastic and incredible. But I have also seen what happens when that therapy is not done in the best way possible, and those results are just not as optimal as you would hope. So, I think that quality control is just a huge area that health care needs to spend a lot of time on to better be able to optimize outcomes for patients.
When I worked one on one with clinicians, I had an immediate impact on that one family or that one clinician. I just feel very lucky that I get to impact 30,000 patients. You just have such a macro impact when you’re really broadening an industry and focusing stakeholders on quality.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?
There is a lot of opportunity. But I also think there is a broad range among organizations and ABA providers. Not all ABA providers are created equally: There’s the innovators and the early adopters, and there are the laggards.
I always thought what we were going to do was try to elevate the top, and sometimes, unfortunately, what we need to do is bring up the bottom. And I think that’s an important role that needs to exist.
I think it’s very important to have a group dedicated to making sure that the top providers shine and the providers who are not where they need to be have an opportunity for growth and improvement.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of behavioral health, what would it be?
I think providers need to be thinking about the whole child. We all need to have a vested interest in becoming super aligned on what quality looks like and what good looks like — finding that North Star and riding towards it. Creating division within the field will make things more challenging.
What do you foresee as being different about the behavioral health industry looking ahead to 2024?
The name of the game will be data. Historically, behavioral health has been something that’s been a little bit more challenging to measure in terms of what good looks like and how to rally around the same measures. I think that we’re going to see more data visibility in the upcoming years. We’re going to see a broader push towards value based care beyond some of the pilots that we’ve seen thus far.
In a word, how would you describe the future of behavioral health?
Bright! There’s a lot of opportunity to do good; there’s a lot of opportunity to innovate. Anytime a field is nascent, that opportunity exists, and so I’m just excited for all the quality organizations that are tackling it.
What quality must all Future Leaders possess?
I think tenacity — or grit — is one of the biggest areas. There’s this idea that being at the top, or being in an executive role, is easy. You’re bobbing and weaving every day. The ability to take each problem as it comes, tackle it and move on to the next one is big, and I think that takes grit and tenacity.
If you could give yourself advice looking back to your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?
Focus on your customers, not on the ones who aren’t. You’re always going to have folks who are going to be the laggards, who are not going to be aligned with the work you’re doing. Don’t give those people too much space in your head and focus on the ones that are in front of you, that are marching with you.
To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit: https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.