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The US Healthcare Policy: Evaluation, Analysis, and Revision

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The Evaluation Stage

Defining the Evaluation Stage. The evaluation stage occurs during or after implementation and it helps determine whether or not the policy is currently successful or if it has weaknesses. The evaluation stage delves further into the policy by critically analyzing what will make the policy a positive legislative device. (Cairney 2013). The objective of the evaluation stage is to figure out what can maximize the effectiveness of the proposed policy and to eliminate any possible weaknesses. According to Andersen, Fagerhaug and Beltz, the Evaluation stage is “an appropriate stage after the policy implementation, as it is effective to evaluate the policy effectiveness in terms of accomplishing policy objectives” (2009). The evaluation process is important in order for the policy to reach its goals and the goal of this proposed policy is to have a more qualitative way to evaluate mental health of patients in an accessible way.

The Evaluation Process. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the policy, stakeholders of the policy need to collect all possible relevant data that can measure its success. The next step in evaluation is that the program and its results must be described to stakeholders. (Center for Disease Control 2012). After describing the program, the stakeholders’ evaluation design must be optimized by understanding the possible boundaries of their evaluation process, the ability to “realize the scale and scope of [their] data collection,” and to accurately use the administrative data available (Center for Disease Control, 2012). Following the focus of evaluation design, the stakeholders process data further to ensure its credibility. After processing the data, the results are synthesized in order to conclude whether or not the policy objectives are being reached. In this specific case, stakeholders can study through surveys and patient reports whether or not more patients were diagnosed in primary care and if they were treated or not. After reporting this evidence and concluding its credibility, official conclusions are presented and its findings can be used in order to maximize the most effective form of implementation for the policy and whether or not the policy still holds the values it desires to maintain.

The Analysis Stage

Defining The Analysis Stage. Policy analysis allows for stakeholders to identify whether or not the policy can achieve its own goals. The process of the analysis stage includes four overall steps: 1. Identifying policy objectives and the problems within it, 2. Establish evaluation criteria, 3. Identify alterative policies, 4. Evaluate those policies, 5. Display and distinguish among alternative policies, and 6. Monitor the implemented policy (Harrington and Estes, 2004). In relation to improving mental health policy, stakeholders can determine which patients have healthcare insurance plans that include mental health coverage. Next, stakeholders can figure out whether or not patients that have been found to have symptoms of mental health disorders were treated or not and if they feel that they were treated the best way possible. Stakeholders could then take this information and see if there are other ways to make mental health care more affordable or if there are other health insurance plans that do include mental health coverage. If however the most feasible plan is the current policy that is implemented, then stakeholders need to evaluate the results of the policy so far and continue to monitor the results of the policy to see if any upward or downward trends occur.

Policy Antagonists and Positives There are many possible ways for a policy to be implemented most effectively. Despite the large amount of challenges that can be posed towards healthcare policies, there are also ways to avoid having to encounter these limitations in the first place. According to the Center for Disease Control, possible policy evaluation challenges include: A lack of resources or clear responsibility for evaluation, a lack of strong evidence to support policy, fear of evaluation and alack of familiarity with policy evaluation methods, external and contextual factors such as economic conditions and public awareness, lack of control over policy, access to appropriate data, rapid pace of policy, lack of appropriate measures, political scrutiny, and difficulty identifying appropriate comparison communities (Center for Disease Control, 2011). In healthcare policy more specifically mental health care, these limitations are entirely feasible since measures regarding mental health are often overlooked or decisions regarding mental health measures are misinformed.

However, there are a number of factors that can contribute to the policy’s goals and objectives. For example, ensuring that the evaluation design has been thoroughly thought out will greatly improve the policies chances of being successful since the way it is evaluated greatly affects the outcome of the policy because this highlights its high points and weaknesses. In the case of mental health policy, having clinical psychologists on the evaluation team can help improve mental health in primary care greatly since they can help quantify what works for patients and what does not. Additionally, clinical psychologists can help ensure that primary care workers are trained and educated in the nuances of mental health disorders. Finally, surveying patients in a qualitative way such as surveys, interviews, or questionnaires can help primary care stakeholders figure out specifically what patients want from their healthcare providers in relation to their mental health.

The Revision Stage

Defining the Revision Stage. The revision stage is when the policymakers continue to revise and improve the policy as it continues to be implemented. There are three essential steps to revision which include adjusting the policy, maintaining the policy if currently implemented in its most effective form, and if the policy should be terminated or continued (Crawford 2004). The revision stage helps policymakers figure out if they need to adjust their policies in order for it to be successful in the future, and if the policy becomes outdated it allows them to improve upon it so the policy can be up to date.

Possible Required Revisions and Conclusions. The most important required revisions to make sure that the policy is successful are to make sure that all healthcare employees under the policy are educated in the mental health field and that progress is constantly monitored. If health organizations do not already have a method to educate their employees, this is a revision that is necessary in order for the policy to flourish. Also, healthcare plans must be revised if possible in order to include healthcare cover for mental health symptoms. Ultimately, employees being trained in the more nuanced areas of mental health are necessary in order for policy to reach its goals and objectives.

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