In a momentous legal settlement, eClinicalWorks (eCW) was fined for lying to customers about its electronic health record software being Meaningful Use certified. Investigators also found that eCW was unlawfully paying influential customers a total of $392,000 in kickbacks for recommending their products to prospective customers. Even more accusations were uncovered when Brendan Delaney, a new customer in the process of implementing their EHR, indicated several software issues that put patient safety at risk. Among other things, eCW failed to sufficiently test their software and correct urgent software bugs before release.
Even without the uncertainty about the future of the country’s healthcare delivery system, behavioral health and substance abuse providers face significant challenges. Demand for services is up, thanks to the devastating opioid addiction epidemic and rising suicide rates. At the same time, the population of practicing psychiatrists declined by 10 percent between 2003 and 2013, and 55 percent of U.S. counties have no psychiatrists at all.
Many electronic health record systems tout a vast array of features – automatic call reminders, billing, scheduling, form generators, paperwork templates, scanning, and just about anything that addresses customers’ needs. Our system, ClinicTracker, offers so many features that we’ve often shied away from listing them all, fearing that we might overwhelm prospective users. Simplicity has a certain initial appeal, even though complex capabilities inevitably prove essential for tailoring an EHR to an agency’s specific requirements.
Before 2000, nine out of 10 U.S. doctors updated their patients’ records by hand and maintained paper files with demographics and treatment notes. In the last decade, though, physicians – motivated by mandates and hoping to improve patient outcomes and their bottom line – have increasingly embraced EHRs. As of 2015, 87% of office-based physicians had adopted some form of EHR; that’s up from 42% in 2008. By this March, 67% of all providers (office-based or otherwise) reported using an EHR. Responding to the growing need, at least 1,100 vendors offer an EHR.
ClinicTracker’s Billing Service emerged from the frustration many agencies experienced trying to find a high quality medical billing service dedicated to managing the complex billing requirements of mental health and substance abuse agencies. Most of these organizations have found that general medical billing services simply are unprepared to manage revenue in the world of behavioral health. For example, most services do not have the capacity to automate billing overrides specific to mental health claims or process institutional claims (paper UB-04 or electronic 837I). ClinicTracker handles those requirements and more.
Unless you have endless resources, it makes sense to do some homework before committing to a major purchase. Whether looking for a house, a vehicle, or a new sound system, savvy shoppers read up on preferred features, performance records, and prices. The same goes for healthcare agencies selecting an EHR. Behavioral healthcare and substance abuse practices, which typically entail complex billing and reporting procedures, require features that suit their unique needs. These tips will help you budget and prepare for this important transition.
"Greater Columbia Behavioral Health (GCBH) is one of several Behavioral Health Organizations (BHOs) in Washington State. GCBH manages a network of Behavioral Health agencies located in Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Kittitas, Klickitat, Walla Walla, Whitman and Yakima counties. GCBH operates through an Inter-local Agreement with these 10 counties to provide services through contracts with the State of Washington." (www.GCBH.org, 2017)
ClinicTracker, a robust, future-proof mental health and substance abuse EHR, announced that it is partnering with TSI to provide an automated collections interface for users seeking a more productive collections process.
No question about it – figuring out how to move old data into a new EHR can be intimidating. For mental health/substance abuse agencies, the change requires handling mountains of records required by insurance companies and regulatory agencies as well as complex reports and billing information. As with any big project, it helps to break the tasks into discrete goals and actions. These steps will help you plan your data migration and make the process go smoothly.
ClinicTracker, a mental health and substance abuse EHR, has partnered with Paper Alternative Solutions, Inc., a leader in paperless strategies and document management. This collaboration offers ClinicTracker’s new customers a way to convert their old paper records to a format that makes them accessible – without having to input the information manually. Implementing ClinicTracker becomes far easier for agencies when they have an efficient method for handling years’ worth of paper charts stored in file cabinets.
A recent Philadelphia news story reported that six people within a few blocks died as a result of heroin overdoses in the same day. It’s just one of many heartbreaking headlines pointing to the country’s devastating opiod epidemic. The toll has been high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015 saw 12,989 heroin-related deaths in the United States.
ClinicTracker has completed a full-scale modernization of the platform underlying its unified Electronic Health Record (EHR), practice management, and billing software. This significant technological upgrade makes ClinicTracker even more attractive to those mental health and substance abuse agencies searching for an EHR that is both robust and future-proof.
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.
Thanks to technology, many of us connect constantly with others via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, instant messaging programs, and other such applications. People now expect the same convenient, instant communication tools in their business lives.
Healthcare practices that operate more than one site can usually offer patients more convenient locations and a broader array of programs and practitioners. Your bottom line can also improve through economies of scale and better visibility within a community.
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.
Thanks to web-based patient portals, we all have far more access to our medical providers and health records than ever before.ClinicTracker EHR Patient PortalThese secure online websites allow 24-hour access to personal health information. They also allow us to communicate with healthcare providers, track appointments, and verify/manage records the same way we track our online purchases or social media accounts.
Hackers gained access in February 2015 to as many as 80 million customers of the nation's second-largest health insurance company, Anthem Inc. ClinicTracker improves data security The information they stole included names, birthdays, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, employment information, and street/email addresses, company officials told media outlets.
Many students come to school these days with more than just their books and backpacks. They also carry the burdens of stress from family disruption, poverty, and mental illness. In fact, about one in five school-aged children meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis, and about half of them begin experiencing symptoms by age 14.
Can't remember all the ingredients for those chocolate chip cookies? Google the recipe on your smartphone. Looking for a cab? There’s an app for that. Want to keep track of all your contacts? No problem. We’ve all become adept at increasing our productivity by computerizing just about everything.