Visiting CommonGround sites in Philadelphia
by on Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 1:13pm

On Tuesday I was invited to visit a relatively new CommonGround site, the <a href="">PATH outpatient program</a> in Philadelphia.

This is my first time writing on the PDA blog. I'm Elliot Murphy, I've worked on CommonGround for 2 years. My role here at PDA is Chief Technical Officer, which means I'm normally tucked away in the background working with the product development team. I started working on CommonGround because I really wanted to work in healthcare, and it's been delightful working on technology that truly helps people. Allison Stiles, our Director of Technology and Behavioral Health Integration was conducting a site review, which is something we do with all sites a few months after they go live. I flew down from Portland, Maine where I'm normally hidden away in an office full of computers working on the CommonGround code, and made my way to the program. There is a gorgeous garden in the back, and I spent a few minutes in the waiting room with some friendly folks who were chatting in both Russian and English.

I've visited CommonGround sites in California before, but this was my first time attending a full day site review. I learned a lot! It was great to see real people using the screens I've helped build, and it was delightful to see how people are taking CommonGround and using it to support recovery. We had focus groups with direct service staff, with CommonGround specialists, with clients, with doctors, and with peer support staff. I won't say who was my favorite, but the picture is of me with the peer support staff. I was amazed and inspired by the eloquence and insight of each of the peer staff as they related their experience with CommonGround, how they cope with common challenges, and their suggestions for improvement.

Just spending time in the decision support center observing folks using CommonGround was eye opening - I took a bunch of notes for how we can make the screens easier to use, and came away with some ideas for how we can make it easier for people to access CommonGround when they are outside the office and have internet access. Everyone we spoke to throughout the day, regardless of role, was excited about recovery and motivated to continue supporting people in recovery using every means available. It was humbling to see the range of backgrounds and expertise that people in each role contributed to the overall experience, and seeing how CommonGround helped center all the interactions around each individual's recovery goals made me very happy.