The ACA and Mental Health/Substance Abuse Treatment: What Lies Ahead?
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.
The Path to a Successful EHR Implementation
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:
The Age of President Trump Dawns: What's the Impact on Behavioral Health?
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.
The Benefits of Clearinghouses for Processing Claims
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.
Making sure your communications are secure has become a central focus for behavioral health agencies. Gone are the days when it’s okay to leave sheets in a fax machine or send private medical information through regular email. ClinicTracker’s integrated Cloud Communications package (which includes Cloud Fax and Direct Secure Messaging services) lets you exchange all incoming and outgoing messages securely and directly from within your EHR.
Old-fashioned fax machines are steadily fading from clinical settings because they cannot guarantee that the right person receives the right document every time. They also make snooping far too easy. True, you can scan documents and attach to a standard email, but this is not a HIPAA-compliant methods for transmitting Personal Health Information (PHI).
Cloud faxing allows users to organize documents and manage who has access to specific files. By managing contacts through a cloud-based fax system, document control is effortlessly straightforward:
- Eliminate the traditional fax machine from your practice
- Save time by sending faxes just like you would compose an email
- Keep all of your communications well-organized and secure
Direct Secure Messaging
Direct Secure Messaging is the accepted protocol for exchanging PHI over the internet. Unlike regular email, Direct messages are authenticated and encrypted to ensure sensitive data are sent and received only by authorized parties.
Federal regulations require that you securely transmit any messages to an outside provider that contains PHI. These rules ensure that your patients' privacy is always protected. The latest secure encryption technology is used to send messages, file attachments, and C-CDA (Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture) records directly through ClinicTracker. In fact, if your agency uses the ClinicTracker Patient Portal, your patients will be able to forward their medical records (in C-CDA format) to outside providers, safe in the knowledge that the information is protected.
- Send and receive any patient information over a trusted HIPAA-compliant network
- Stay compliant with Meaningful Use regulations
Patient Statement Service
ClinicTracker has partnered with TriZetto Provider Solutions to offer a secure solution for generating and mailing patient statements. Fully integrated into ClinicTracker, it reduces costs, gets bills out quicker, and improves cashflow – all with less effort and paperwork.
Features and Benefits
- After batching patient invoices in BillingTracker, you can send them to TriZetto with a click of a button.
- TriZetto will print the statements and mail them to your patients.
- Save at least 30 cents per statement because you don't need to purchase address labels, stamps, or spend money on printing costs and time on mailing the statements.
- Reduce labor costs since your employees don't have to process patient statements manually.
- Let your staff focus on other important tasks by putting this responsibility in our hands.
As far as your patients are concerned, they’re getting the bill from you. And they can pay however they wish: by mailing a check, making an in-person cash or credit card payment, or using the online payment features within ClinicTracker's Patient Portal. They get a professional-looking bill that’s always on time and convenient to pay.
The Advantages of a Paperless Behavioral Health Office
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.
An EHR Sophisticated Enough for Training Clinics
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.
The Missing Link: Why ACOs Should Include Behavioral Health
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.
Horses Become A Component Of Mental Health Treatment
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.