What is Mental Health Practice Management?
What’s the difference between mental health practice management and EHR / EMR? Do you need to choose one over the other? How do you pick the right system?
The Difference Between Mental Health Practice Management and EHR / EMR
Practice management software automates tasks such as client care, scheduling, invoicing, claims processing and other related operational responsibilities. Because it increases efficiency by streamlining business processes, it frees up time for providers to treat their clients. Mental health practice management systems can be used by organizations of any size and niche in order to save time, minimize redundancy, and manage the practice.
EHR, or electronic health records (also frequently referred to as EMR, electronic medical records), automates the storage, retrieval and creation of client records and charts. EHR or EMR systems streamline data entry, assist with picking the correct DSM/ICD and CPT codes; reduce the amount of paper charting; provide up to date reporting and analytics; and minimize the time it takes to share information with other vendors, such as a lab or pharmacy. Utilizing EHRs can save time, reduce mistakes, minimize paperwork and provide more accurate, comprehensive client care.
EMR organizes the monetary, administrative, and clinical aspects of your practice – and practice management systems (PMS) can integrate EHR in order to maximize it. For integrated systems, EMR + PMS should work in tandem to integrate billing and remittance, client intake documents, scheduling, payroll, and other data into one system in order to determine if your practice if profitable and viable.
“EMR is more focused on organizing the patient files, whereas practice management is more about automating business operations and administrative files for the practice.” ~ Katie Hollar, Capterra
Do You Need to Choose Mental Health Practice Management Over EHR / EMR?
Whether or not you want to choose mental health practice management over EHR / EMR depends on the needs of your behavioral health practice: if you’re planning on using your electronic system as more of a data repository, then you probably don’t need a mental health practice management component. For example, if your only goal in acquiring a paperless note system is to enhance record keeping (help with choosing the correct diagnosis code, streamline data entry, replace paper charting, and transmitting information to other vendors such as a pharmacy), then mental health practice management is probably not necessary. Many software systems offer mental health practice management systems and EHR separately.
If however, you want to utilize your electronic software to integrate that level of data management with other processes such as scheduling, payroll, invoicing, claims processing and other related operational responsibilities, then you do need to add the mental health practice management component. This can be done two ways: by picking two systems, or by choosing an electronic records software that has EHR / EMR and mental health practice management integrated into one system, like PIMSY.
How Do You Pick the Right Mental Health Practice Management System(s)?
As with the overall question of EHR vs. PMS, this depends on the needs of your practice and the choices you are considering. For example, if you having already been successfully using an EMR, want to stay on that system, and now want to add the mental health practice management component, then you would obviously choose to use two systems to meet your needs. If, however, you’re not already using an EHR – or have outgrown your current (legacy) system – then you would choose an integrated EHR + PMS.
Once you know which scenario of electronic records works best for your practice, it’s a matter of seeing what software is available within that category and comparing systems to find the one that best meets your needs. One way to accomplish this is using a software directory like Capterra or Software Advice. For complimentary tools in picking the right system for your practice, see our EMR Resource Center.
More Information About Mental Health Practice Management
One of the challenges to mental health practice management is making sense of all of the available data, both in general and when comparing system specifics. For more complimentary tools, check out:
7 Steps to Finding the Right EHR for your practice (see form on the right of the linked page)
EMR Resource Center
Mental Health EHR
Behavioral Health EHR
Behavioral Health Practice Management
Cookie Cutter vs. Customizable EHR
Software Shopping Tips