General Medical EHRs Then (and now):
- Required supervisor billing
- Stored mainly quantifiable results
- Followed standard billing practices for medical procedures (not those required for behavioral health)
- Lacked facility for creating, updating, and tracking paperwork requirements
- Allowed for updating only one patient at a time
While a Mental Health EHR:
- Manages the complex billing scenarios that are inherent in mental health settings
- Can create and administer specialized forms and rating scales
- Handles invoicing via grants, school districts, court systems, EAPs, community programs, and more
- Offers time-based billing
- Helps you build paperwork templates for sub-specialty programs
- Manages regulatory compliance for paperwork completion by tracking due dates
- Generates alerts and notifications to staff when paperwork is overdue
- Allows for coordinating group therapy appointments – from scheduling to entering progress notes
As behavioral and mental health services have expanded nationwide, the EHR industry has provided advanced needs to tailor to professionals like you. Fortunately, you no longer have to rely on an outdated practice management program to accomplish your goals. Here are the top ten benefits of using a Mental Health Specific EHR:
1. Tailored to your needs
An EHR for mental health providers is purpose-built for managing treatment within the bounds of clinical practice, not the world of a general hospital. It is designed to meet your unique requirements—avoiding the complicated, time-consuming, and costly functionality issues. These specialized features can include; paperwork templates specific to mental health documentation, unique sets of billing codes, formularies limited to psychiatric medications, streamlined claims processing, and an automated appointment reminder system that reduces no-shows but maintains HIPAA compliance. Some additional elements that may be part of a high-quality behavioral health EHR include:
- Program types
- Compliance rules
- Automated billing
- Staff assignment types
- Automated insurance verification
- Treatment planning and outcome measures
2. Saves you time and money
If you or your staff are having to work around a difficult general medical EHR, you are wasting time, money, and energy. You are also missing out on profits and growth. For example, Medicare can delay or deny reimbursements when intake assessments, behavioral treatment plans, or progress notes are incomplete. With records receiving increasing scrutiny, having an organized electronic health records system will make a positive impact regarding when you will be reimbursed for claims. Patient portal forms eliminate the need for data entry, while automated billing and authorization tracking save valuable time. An EHR for mental health providers lets you operate more efficiently, but with fewer administrative staff.
3. Flexible and customizable
You can expect a more tailored user experience, smoother implementation, and more reliable customer support with most mental health EHRs. The best solutions are flexible and customizable according to your demands. Mental health EHRs typically provide an intuitive workflow, easy to use reports, treatment planning, and dashboards to manage your paperwork and track compliance. You can design the system to fit your needs, rather than having to adjust to the program's requirements.
4. Offers more specialized reporting
Primary care and behavioral health differ in their language, codes, classifications, data reporting requirements, and regulations. That's why administrators in mental health agencies need specialized reporting at their fingertips. With a sophisticated mental health-oriented EHR, you can generate reports for regulatory compliance, state initiatives, court documentation, and more. Some of those reports are pre-stored, while others you can create on your own.
5. Contributes to better patient care
Using an EHR designed for mental health applications puts you in a position to provide better care, from the first contact through follow-up. For example, you can configure decision support rules for medications, allergies, and labs as well as customize alerts specific to mental health documentation requirements. E-prescribing makes prescribing safer and more efficient. It will be less likely that scripts will be filled incorrectly, and you will be alerted if the risk of a harmful drug interaction is present. A mental health EHR also allows you to share patient records securely with other providers to ensure the best care for the patient. Overall, patient information is readily available and 100% accurate, allowing you to make timely, informed, and confident treatment decisions.
6. Reduces errors
Mistakes in the medical record represent a significant liability that can lead to improper treatment and subsequent legal issues. Fortunately, the use of EHR software has gone a long way in improving accuracy by guaranteeing legibility, providing "filters" that make sure the input is within expected ranges/types, and automating many procedures. With all your internal documents stored in a central location for easy access, the chances of mistakes are significantly reduced.
7. Supports care coordination
Having access to all the information keeps you from having to make quick decisions. By using a system capable of securely exchanging information with outside entities, such as hospitals and primary care physicians, you can build a more objective and detailed picture of the client's circumstances. You can also make sure that other providers and systems have access to the information they need to do their jobs. Providers can also access the forms patients complete on the portal. Authorized users on the patient portal account can also see completed forms. For example, an interim progress report may be shared with an outside provider or court entity. As the trend toward integration between primary care and mental health continues, providers must implement forward-thinking technologies that allow integration and collaboration.
While general medical EHRs have historically focused on capturing data about physical conditions and lab results, mental health EHRs have in-depth behavioral health content, such as targeted protocols for psychological diseases and drug treatment. Patients have access to valuable information like document and patient education resources libraries. The software also accommodates the different types of care found in mental health facilities like group therapy sessions or offsite field trips.
9. Secures patient data
We are currently living in a world where cybercrime runs rampant. Medical records are a frequent target. Of course, failure to obtain confidential data represents a HIPAA violation. With an EHR, access can be regulated and data better protected. For example, specific access can be limited to a patient group, staff assignment, or location. You can even restrict paperwork access to a clinician's records. There are also unique security settings for each user—protecting you from loss or theft of data in a way that can't be achieved through other means.
An EHR specific to mental health allows you to change configurations or customizations instantly without having to wait months for development. Also, the national opioid crisis has resulted in significant attention to the federal policy associated with substance abuse. In a recent report detailing opportunities to integrate clinical and mental healthcare, the Bipartisan Policy Center recommended that policymakers encourage or require mental healthcare providers to adopt EHR systems. It is only a matter of time before the government will instruct mental health practitioners to update their systems. By future-proofing your practice, you will be ahead of the curve.
Don't wait to become paperless, improve your efficiency, and generate more revenue. Consider an EHR specific to mental health and watch your practice thrive.