Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) lists mental health and substance abuse treatment as one of ten “essential benefits” that all private insurers and Medicaid must cover, more patients have been receiving treatment. Of the 20 million people who gained health insurance coverage under the ACA, an estimated 29 percent have a diagnosable mental illness, substance use disorder, or both. An estimated 2.8 million people with substance use disorders, including 220,000 with opioid disorders, have coverage under the ACA.
Implementing a new – or first – EHR into your mental health or substance abuse practice can be intimidating. You already know the main benefits: less paperwork, greater efficiency, and improved productivity. That means your staff saves time, which translates into better patient care and higher profits.
But getting there takes time and planning, especially for behavioral healthcare practices that deal with mountains of paperwork and face complex billing and reporting requirements. There’s no question that setting up an EHR system takes a lot of effort. Here are a few guidelines to make the process less stressful:
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed that on Day One as president he would “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has resulted in an estimated 20 million people gaining health insurance coverage since 2010. After winning the election, Trump backpedaled a bit, suggesting he may retain parts of the ACA. But his pick for secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, strongly opposes the ACA. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers continue promising to dismantle President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, which lists mental health and substance abuse treatment as one of 10 “essential benefits” that all private insurers and Medicaid must cover.
When the healthcare industry began transmitting claims electronically, Medicare and large insurance payers envisioned clearinghouses as a way to manage the flow of information. Clearinghouses are software-based hubs that allow healthcare practices to transmit protected health information in a secure, efficient manner. Healthcare facilities can consolidate electronic claims and manage them from a single location through an online dashboard. After clearinghouses scrub claims, they transmit electronic claim information securely to the insurance carrier for reimbursement.
Who among us has not faced a deadline – a grant application or income taxes, for example – and wasted precious time hunting for a specific statistic or date? Today’s ever-improving technology makes that time-consuming panic unnecessary. Fast, efficient computer programs and applications allow us to track and store mountains of information in secure, accessible formats. Apply those concepts to running a business, and you’re on your way to creating a paperless (or at least a less paper-filled) office.
ClinicTracker’s originator, Dr. Michael Gordon, discusses how having students influenced the system’s development.
Involving trainees in clinic life requires administrators to track complex workflows and communications. They also have to make it as easy as possible for supervisors and staff to collaborate on cases, manage paperwork flow, and analyze clinical and supervisory caseloads. One of the main reasons ClinicTracker is so sophisticated stems from the fact that it grew up in an academic training clinic within a department of psychiatry.
Spurred by the Affordable Care Act, physicians in Buffalo recently created New York’s first accountable care organization (ACO). Doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers have formed these groups to improve coordination of care for Medicare patients.
When clients go to Spirit Reins for counseling, they can receive traditional therapy in an office setting. But the sessions are more likely to take place outside, and with a horse standing alongside the mental health professional.
As healthcare practices computerize records and organizational functions, providers and administrators are reaping the benefits of using real-time data “dashboards.”
A group of about 450 primary care physicians and specialists in Nebraska recently started using live audio and video via the Internet to consult with patients.In this setup, patients meet with specialists online in their local doctor's office, saving them from having to travel long distances to confer with a specialist.
Years ago, a doctor's offices could be self-contained and efficient. The physician had plenty of time to treat patients, while his efficient nurse/secretary tracked medical records, set appointments, and processed bills and payments. But today's complex healthcare system has made that memory a distant one. Doctors are increasingly pressed for time amid federal mandates for EHR and meaningful-use compliance, complex diagnosis and billing codes, and bewildering payment and reimbursement models.
Physicians have freely expressed frustration over the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Meaningful Use program.“Doctors want to spend their time with patients, not measuring the number of clicks,” American Medical Association (AMA) President Steven J. Stack, MD, said late last year in a statement.