All EHRs are not created equal – and this is especially true of mental health EHR software. Unfortunately, behavioral health seems to be the red-headed stepchild of the EHR software world. With the advent of Meaningful Use, a lot of mental health EHRs were slapped together in the past decade, to try and capture the federal incentive funds.
Sadly, many of these systems don’t support the daily reality of the clinicians using them: they’re cumbersome at best; and behavioral health functionality is often an afterthought, if considered at all.
The need for efficiency, easy integration among departments, data security, and especially mental-health specific features were often sacrificed in the rush to create many programs.
How can you be a smart shopper? How can you filter through the plethora of programs available and find those that might truly serve your agency? Here are the mental health EHR software items that matter most to our clients – and leads:
For any provider whose client base isn’t entirely self-pay, authorizations are the lynchpin of your business. Many times, without authorization or “preauth” to perform the service, you don’t get paid!
A mental health EHR with a solid utilization management tool is crucial; one that allows multiple decrement actions is invaluable.
In some EHRs, the treatment plan is seamlessly integrated with the progress notes: you can easily pop your goals or interventions into the body of your note with the click of a button and then build onto it, based on what happens in session. Look for a mental health EHR that includes this functionality for ease of charting – and to efficiently provide supporting documentation for audits / payers.
Here’s the beauty of an EHR: it should eliminate duplicate data processing. For example, instead of having to comb through a list of client records to determine who no-showed for an appointment in the past month, you should be able to simply run a report from your software that pulls this data from the calendar.
It’s precisely this usability of data that makes using an EHR more efficient than paper (and that makes one integrated, enterprise-level system more efficient than multiple software programs): the information you put into any part of the program can be collated & measured easily and effectively.
Any program you’re considering should pull information from every field across the entire system, turning agency data into usable information.
In this day and age of expensive HIPAA breaches, limiting staff to only the areas they need access to can be critical. Some programs offer profile security, which lets you control exactly what your employees can see and do in the system.
For example, if you decide you don’t want to allow your biller access to the client notes, you can set the software to not allow it! Or, if you don’t want a clinician to have access to a chart for a patient that hasn’t been assigned to them, you control that with a few clicks. Ideally, your mental health EHR software empowers you to set whatever security parameters you choose.
Some programs even provide tracking for every action in the software – so if a question arises, the program can tell you who performed a particular action and when. This can be invaluable during audits and helps maintain HIPAA compliance.
Similar to profile management, audit management provides real-time data about actions performed in the program. An agency can be taken down by audit complications, so having clear and reliable audit management tools is incredibly important. EHRs that offer flexibility within those management tools – so you can track exactly what you need and want to see for your payers and internal analytics – is an added bonus.
Leigh-Ann Renz is the Marketing & Business Development Director of PIMSY EHR. For more information about electronic solutions for your practice, check out Mental Health EHR.