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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:

Appoint a project manager. It is critical that you appoint a skilled and knowledgeable project manager to drive the process internally. A single point of contact keeps the information flow clear and efficient. Having said that, some practices select one manager for clinical workflows and another to oversee setting up billing processes. Regardless, implementing an EHR is no different than any other large-scale project – you’ll need someone to steward the initiative from your end. Implementations that fail are implementations that never had full commitment on the part of the agency.

Assess your complete workflow. For any EHR to work for you, you need a clear, complete view of every aspect of your operation. In this discovery phase, collect information about all staff, patients, billers, payors, funders, and grantors. Some questions to get you started:

What’s the process by which you submit claims?
How do you handle recording appointments? Sending reminders? Tracking no-shows?
If you use a clearinghouse for billing, who is the contact?
How do you want to handle staff who work in different locations?
Which employees should have access to just some portions of the clinical data?
What research projects are you conducting? What are the deadlines? What data do you need?
When are compliance items due? Who is responsible for monitoring them? In what format?
What factors determine how much you charge for a particular service?
What information do you keep on patient demographics and how do you need to track it?
How do you measure revenue? How do you track income by practitioner or diagnosis?
What information do you want at your fingertips?
Encourage staff buy-in. Even though you have a project manager, the entire staff should be involved in the discovery phase. In addition to ensuring that your software will encompass all elements of your practice, it sends the message that everyone is part of the process. From the get-go, be transparent about the benefits and challenges of implementing an EHR. Teamwork and collaboration are central to using software solutions successfully.

Maximize training opportunities. One way to increase buy-in and build teamwork is to create super users, who become office experts on the EHR system. Appoint a few staff members for one-on-one training who can take their skills back to the office and share them.

At ClinicTracker, we’ll help you tailor an EHR system that works for you. Rather than fit your practice into a generic template, we’ll customize workflows, reports, and documents that suit the distinct needs of your operation. We’ll also teach you how to make changes yourself without needing to reach out to us. Before you go live, we’ll run a batch of test claims to verify your payors/clearinghouse accept the format you’ve configured. In case of any rejections, we’ll work with you to make the necessary adjustments.

With ClinicTracker, you’re in complete control. And we’re always here if you need us.

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About ClinicTracker

ClinicTracker is a robust, future-proof mental health and substance abuse EHR. Dr. Michael Gordon, a renowned clinical psychologist, and Joshua Gordon, an award-winning software engineer, founded the company in 2000. ClinicTracker EHR’s powerful software empowers your agency to succeed. ClinicTracker will automate all of your clinic routines, boost staff productivity, increase billing efficiency, and provide the tools you need to manage your clinic effectively. While mental health and substance abuse agencies are the most common group of users, foster care agencies, social services, equine assisted therapy programs, university clinics, academic counseling systems, family counseling services, and eating disorder clinics also take advantage of our powerful software.