- 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.
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.
Every year the Samaritan Institute holds their annual conference. The talk tracks this year focused heavily on tele-behavioral health as well as EHR selection, implementation and clinical workflow. Our CEO, Kristin Walker, was asked to present with Dr. Carol Pitts on electronic health records. The sessions were full and they had a line of people waiting to talk to each of them at the conclusion of the presentations.
The importance of working with vendors that have the proper credentials in behavioral health was part of the discussion. They also discussed the travails but necessary journey of moving from a Behavioral Health EHR that ceases to meet the needs of a behavioral health agency to one that is designed as an enterprise-wide and browser-based EHR.
What is a Community Mental Health organization to do when it is time to make the switch from one Behavioral Health EHR to another?
They start planning.
They outline what isn’t working about their current system and plan out their goals for transitioning to a new EHR that can better handle their needs. Sometimes the first jump into an electronic health record system is successful only in that it transitions the agency off a paper-based system and educates the staff about what kinds of features they want in a new system.
Oh the travails of Behavioral Health EHR vendors! Sometimes they are cringe worthy from what is appropriate marketing material to how slow and outdated a product actually is and how that impacts a mental health agency.
We do love technology and so appreciate the vendors that service behavioral health with integrity, innovation, maturity, and best-in-class products and services.
Today we interview our CEO, Kristin Walker. She has a lot to say about electronic health record vendors and revenue cycle management companies that service Behavioral Health. It’s no-holds-barred as usual and we’ll discuss just who has access to patient mental health records from Revenue Cycle Management organizations to Electronic Health Record vendors. We’ll shine a spotlight on why this is important to agencies and providers.
She also answers questions from our listeners about what she does, why she does it, and why her radio show and Behavioral Health are her passions.
The Nuts and Bolts of Consultancy in Behavioral Healthcare
Why You Need Us—and How We Can Help
The healthcare system as a whole is a complex compilation of providers, insurers, administrators, and vendors. And although the end goal is always to better the health of patients, healthcare is also a business. That business part of healthcare, just as with any venture that involves dollar signs, brings out the best in some, the worst in others. We see it as our job—our passion—to help organizations wade through the behavioral health market to match the best products with the right providers to ensure the best care. And as we’ve found, much of that work involves finding the right people.
Tools for tomorrow’s workplace today
Academic institutions that offer programs for psychiatry and psychology students need to invest in behavioral health EHR software. They want to offer their students the best software tools as well as the opportunity to step into the workforce ahead of their peers. With training in sophisticated software applications these future leaders in behavioral health are better equipped to focus on patient care because they can capitalize on the growing trend to incorporate electronic health records (EHR) into clinical operations.
Many private practices in both the mental health and medical fields have made the transition from paper filing to EHR technology in recent years. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) health care providers are able to tap into long-term cost savings that enhance office efficiency and make it easier to collect more accurate patient information. But more importantly, EHRs enable communication across practice settings and facilitate interaction among healthcare professionals.
As part of our commitment to The Samaritan Institute we have asked our colleagues to host a series of webinars designed specifically for behavioral health providers.
Samaritan Network Webinar Offerings
The Samaritan Institute has partnered with Advantage Consulting, LLC, everythingEHR, and Roy Huggins of Person-Centered Tech to provide FREE webinars to the Samaritan Network on topics related to HIPAA and Technology, Fundamentals of Mental Health Service Evaluation, as well as Electronic Health Record Systems.
The first offering, “HIPAA and Security” will be held on Monday, December 15; with more to come in early 2015, including a four part series related to “Planning and Implementing Clinical Outcome Measures Activities.” While you are encouraged to attend the live sessions in order to participate in the question and answer dialogue, the webinars will also be recorded for viewing as your schedule allows. Ongoing consultation in these areas continues to be available to Centers as needed. Kristin Walker of everythingEHR will be moderating all of the sessions below.
“Excellence in Mental Health” can mean a number of things, but in healthcare, the phrase signifies momentous changes coming down the pipeline. And with a proposed 1.5 million people soon to be enabled in finding access to care, my anticipation is that this is going to significantly impact practices’ need for effective EHR technology.
The bipartisan 2014 Excellence in Mental Health Act outlines criteria for practices to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHC). Once certified, centers are eligible for grants awarded to re-construct facilities and expand programs.
The change is exciting. Legislation hopes to assist providers in overcoming barriers between people and services, and points to technology to achieve this aim. Outlined within the Act are steep expectations for practices. And – in large part – it’s up to technology to help realize these standards. And EHR’s as well as providers will need to be ready for this.