Mental Health News Radio is heading to Denver again! MHNR’s Kristin Sunanta Walker will be doing live interviews at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders starting August 18. From the halls of the conference floor and a media room that the conference graciously set up for the show, Walker will be touching base with vendors, participants, and session presenters (many of whom have appeared on the show previously), with no topic off the table. Through live interviews and lots of candid conversation, Walker hopes to make new connections and further much-needed conversations on the most crucial messages coming out of this conference. Here, Walker talks about why she wanted to make this trip, what she’s most excited about, and how you can listen along.
In today’s world of convenience, it is simple to search for a product or service you need online, order it, and move on with your life with very little interruption. Often, once a consumer has received their product or service, they never have contact with the vendor again. Their transaction over, there is no need for additional communication.
In the health industry, however, particularly in the field of behavioral health, it is much more important that the patient and doctor build a relationship of trust. Several factors can be involved in a patient’s physical and mental state, and past relationships can be crucial in diagnosing and treating the patient and maintaining the patient’s health.
The Heart and the Hub of Behavioral Health
Billed as the nation’s most effective advocate for behavioral health prevention, early intervention, science-based treatment, and recovery, the National Council for Behavioral Health wears many hats that serve one cause: mental health. Whether it’s by effecting federal change by pushing through much-needed policies on the Hill or stifling mental health stigma with science or social media, the National Council is a best friend to behavioral health providers and vendors alike—even if they don’t know it (you likely do).
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (otherwise known as MACRA) was signed into law in April 2015. A few months ago, the CMS released its proposed rule for what MACRA entails. What does that mean for behavioral health providers who care for Medicare beneficiaries? Let’s break it down.
“Kristin Walker is a scientific thinker” is not something I ever thought I’d hear … from anyone. In fact, if someone did make that statement I would probably ask what they added to their protein shake that morning. My name included in the same sentence with the words “math” and “science” just does not compute. Don’t get me wrong: I have my talents but I also know my limits.
My acknowledged and apparent lack of skill in these areas has been a running joke throughout my professional life. It is not uncommon for a colleague to send me a clip of a Saturday Night Live skit with one of our political figures parodied on Jeopardy stating, “You said there’d be no math!” Or colleagues like Dr. Darrin Hanna, CTO of a Behavioral Health EHR, who will jokingly text me during contract negotiations, “Listen, when it comes to the numbers part of the contract just let me review it for you,” followed by an evil smile emoji.
Of course, such teasing is all in good fun, as I’m the first to admit to not just my strengths but also my weaknesses. By admitting my shortcomings it allows me to bolster those areas with other people who exhibit those talents. That’s how everythingEHR works—and oh, how the team at everythingEHR has grown over the last year. By taking on the right people for our needs, we have evolved into a tight unit with specific skill sets that can better serve your needs.
But what exactly do we do?
It has been hard to explain precisely what “it” is that we DO. The most publicly social thing we do is host a radio show Mental Health News Radio that is downloaded globally. All of our shows enjoy a certain popularity because of the wide diversity of topics, but it is the programs we have done on narcissistic personality disorder, psychopathy, and sociopaths that have given us real global reach.
We also work with Behavioral Health practices as well as community mental health organizations and academic institutions. Using our specific expertise and experience we help them find the best electronic health record systems, revenue cycle management, business development, and outreach programs for their needs. We work with their staff on Meaningful Use attestation, HIPAA compliance, EHR implementation, and the list goes on and on.
Another source of inspiration for us is working directly with the vendors that support the Behavioral Healthcare market: EHR and billing companies, funding agencies, and ancillary technology innovators. Just recently another fantastic EHR organization reached out to us simply because they Googled “commercialization in the EHR market” and our website was the first in the display. We are proud to nurture their growth so they can better serve mental health organizations.
Last but not least, we are invited to speak at national conferences on healthcare and technology about a host of topics. Whether it is clinical workflow, revenue initiatives, or how to gauge a technology company’s effectiveness: we have our fingers on the pulse of Behavioral Healthcare and we love sharing that information.
At everythingEHR we work together to effect all of the above. While I am at the helm, this ship is sailed by the talents of many others as well. Our experienced and innovative clinicians, administrators, marketers, developers, technology advisers, and strategic partners have unparalleled expertise in Behavioral Healthcare. And believe me, I’m not blind to the talent I’m surrounded by in those who share this everythingEHR journey with me. So as I think of our success, I’ll try to pinpoint what it is exactly that I do best.
What is it that I do as the CEO?
I unexpectedly stumbled across the biggest part of this answer when our CFO, Joy Wanden, came across an article, The Secret to Creativity, Intelligence, and Scientific Thinking: Being Able to Make Connections, and forwarded it to me. It took me a month to read it because it has that word science in it, which I immediately attributed to some form of math (which means it goes into the “read next year” folder). Clearly this article is not meant for me, I thought.
I am so glad I read it anyway. The article explained everything I could never put into words about what I excel at and what it is that I do–I make connections. To summarize the technicalities, this involves linear thinking and is oft maligned by categorizing someone as a “networker.” A kindred spirit, Jay Lacny, Director of Business Development for a Behavioral Health EHR and CEO of a CRM organization, is another master connector. He and I have been known to spend a few ADHD moments (this diagnosis serves us both) discussing how this skill is sometimes ignored and misunderstood in the professional world.
But it shouldn’t be.
This skill has served me well throughout the decades I have been an entrepreneur—after I learned to apply it to the right people. You see, when I first entrenched myself in the Behavioral Health marketplace, I tried in vain to help a couple of small organizations connect to other entities so they could grow. It did not work but I know now it was due to nothing I did or didn’t do. I learned the hard way that if an organization cannot stand on its own because of faulty leadership and/or bad technology, I was actually doing a disservice by connecting them with other entities in Behavioral Health. It was through these experiences that I learned all about narcissistic personality disorder. There were very painful yet profound moments in which I learned that I cannot help solve anyone’s problems if they’re not willing to address them. The very nature of this disorder lies in the fact that the person or organization affected does not believe they need to change.
As I read further into this article, I came to realize that many of the ideas I tried to implement with our first vendors fell flat. Were these former vendors more successful because of our involvement? Absolutely. Did they maintain the same level of success after our departure? No. But why did so many ideas never take off when these same principles and ideas now work wonderfully with all of our other clients?
Most of our early ideas weren’t faulty on their own. But at the same time, they couldn’t take off because they were being applied to the wrong organizations. Once in the right hands they grew like wildfire (and still do). Finding positive entities to place your ideas–where they are respected, acknowledged, nurtured, and taken to far greater places because of our clients’ innovation–is what we do best. And, though our first journeys working with Behavioral Health vendors may have been unhealthy ones, I have to say we remain thankful for how those experiences helped us understand where to put our energy in the future.
I am thankful for the journey.
We created a set of standards which we apply to every client relationship that has come since then and we practice healthy, safe and necessary boundaries. We also gained the knowledge of how to properly vet a company, especially its leadership. Out of uncomfortable experiences we learned how to nurture highly motivated vendors and Behavioral Health organizations. We work hard to strategically partner with the top minds in our field, like Michael Myles, CEO of Active Marketing, and Scott Lloyd, President of MTM Services. Let me tell you how incredible it is to volley ideas back and forth with peak performers like these in the healthcare space. How could I not be thankful for the awkward process that brought me to this awakening?
I now look at all experiences, good and bad, as catalysts for the next venture. It is quite true what some say about growth often being born of our most painful experiences. I have been able to finely tune what I was already good at–connecting the “right” people with one another–and I have learned how to turn this skill into a successful organization. Some of our clients are competitors with one another and yet we work hard to balance this reality because our mission is about supporting the greater good in Behavioral Health. Whatever is best for the provider and the patient always works for us. We want great technology vendors to grow because they support our mission: stellar provider tools and superior patient care. We want great Behavioral Health organizations to grow because they support our mission: stellar provider tools and superior patient care.
So what’s the point of all this, anyway?
The point of all this is to tell you that as the CEO of everythingEHR I have finally figured out what it is that I do best: making and nurturing connections. And now that I have science to back me up (enter smiley faced emoji here), I can continue doing what comes naturally. And that is helping to connect all of you, in whatever capacity that comes, always thankfully, ever graciously.
Kristin Walker, CEO everythingEHR
Host, Mental Health News Radio
Have questions for Kristin?
- The research and demo process can tell you almost everything you need to know about an EHR vendor. Do you have the time and the staff to traverse this rocky road on your own?
- If this isn’t your first rodeo with an EHR, work with vendors that have nothing to hide
- Avoid vendors that shout out in their marketing material how honest they are, would never hold your data hostage, etc. – professionals don’t need to make these claims in their material
- There’s a diagnosis code for this kind of behavior
Choosing the right behavioral health EHR is one of the most important decisions a mental health organization will make.
Before you dive into purchasing the software that will be running your practice make sure the vendor providing the demo is not really a magician. In our time spent only selling mental health EHRs, we have done demos exactly as trained by the creators of the products. We found out later this was horrendously misleading and when we started doing demonstrations of the products exactly as they worked, sales of these EHRs slowed down to a trickle. As they should.
everythingEHR has been reviewing behavioral health EHRs for the past few years. Many of our clients from mental health billers to behavioral health providers have come to rely on our EHR knowledge to help them during the often painful process of selecting a system that will ultimately run their practice. We have demoed more than forty behavioral health EHRs. Some are 100% mental health focused and others serve many sectors of health care and include a behavioral health component. We found that the process of vetting EHR vendors can and should be a time-consuming journey but often filled with missteps and some landmines. Our clients always report a serious reduction in anxiety by having one of our advisers join them on each and every demo.
It is so easy to slip into negative thinking when walking the dusty trail of adopting an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system within your behavioral healthcare practice. But this type of thinking and talking can actually result in poorer self-esteem in the workplace and reduce performance during this often challenging time of change.
There is a large and growing body of research on the measurable impact a positive mind-set has on workplace satisfaction and performance. At a minimum, these findings suggest that workplace enthusiasm – and, on the flip side, negativity – impact organizational productivity.
Transforming the Leader/Transformational Leadership
Organizational leaders during a massive technological overhaul – such as adopting a new EHR – are asked to show more composure than perhaps ever before in the workplace. Adoption of a new system requires patience to minimize the impact of uncertainty among coworkers amidst the already existing day-to-day demands of your practice.
Most of our listeners and readers know all about Myles the Therapy Dog. He’s been in parades, traveled all over the United States, and logged miles of visits in outpatient and inpatient mental health organizations. He’s also worked at schools in special needs classrooms. We added his younger brother, Buddy, to the program as Myles got older. Buddy does most of the ball catching and delivering while Myles makes rounds to each patient or student so they can pet him and give him treats.
As a mental and behavioral healthcare practice ready to adopt or expand a paperless system, you might find yourself in new territory without a map.
While there is no one perfect catchall, forming a shortlist of vendors depends on understanding how important features of Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology can meet the needs of your workplace. Assessing your needs, knowing what you are looking for, and being in the know about key features that systems offer saves you valuable time, energy – and in the long run – cost. The features listed below provide a good starting point in leading you in the right direction to find the EHR your practice needs. We are also a phone call or email away if you would like a guide through this process.
Credibility: Who are the founding members of the organization? Are they mental health providers that have created software that runs their own successful mental health agencies? Would the CEO or President be an invited speaker at a Behavioral Health conference to discuss something other than technology? What kind of contributions have the founding members created for Behavioral Health? Are they the face of the company? Can you find their staff on LinkedIn with a multitude of and varied experience in the field of Behavioral Health?
Billing System: A billing system that focuses on easy setup for direct billing to many payers within the application but also offers built-in integration with clearinghouses for payment and eligibility checking so you spend less time in clearinghouse portals to process your billing. EHRs that have direct links to databases that house every insurance payers address, phone numbers, etc. which reduces the amount of time your practice needs to spend setting up the system, as well as, human error. EHRs with tools that show you as a provider what your reimbursement rates should be across multiple insurance payers.