The network should give consumers a choice of provider organizations. When resource limitations make this impossible (for example, the funding body will fund only one provider of a particular service in a region) then the network needs to assure that the sole organization offering a particular service provides consumers choices of service times and practitioners.
Least restrictive and most appropriate service that meet consumer needs and preferences is achieved through flexible, responsive admissions and utilization management criteria for persons with multiple or chronic needs, such as:
- substance use disorders;
- serious and persistent mental illness or serious emotional disturbance;
- substantial developmental and physical disability; and
- severe, chronic family and individual problems with multiple, or interacting causes.
Interpretation: Many observers are appropriately distressed by the time lag between research finding and application of research findings in health and human services. Networks can be vehicles for the delivery of services that are grounded in research, yet in most cases, the introduction of research-based services cannot be done in a single year contract cycle. This is for several reasons:
There is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes evidence-based practices for all services. Evidence-based practices have not been developed and identified for all services that may be offered within a network. Some evidence-based practices require the development of funding mechanisms, structures for access to physicians and other specialists, staff development and training, and other activities that may take time and resources that may not be readily available.
Consequently, effective networks recognize that they cannot require that all services be grounded in the findings of research studies conducted with experimental designs, published in peer reviewed journals, and promoted by expert panels. Instead, networks develop realistic targets for importing research findings into its service offerings. Their annual and strategic plans identify goals and objectives for importing and using research-based practices that are supported by such activities as training, service and capacity development, and the introduction of service requirements that meet recognized fidelity scales.