What’s EHR for Mental Health? Why Should You Care!?
by Leigh-Ann Renz, 10.2.12
Electronic Health / Medical Records for Mental & Behavioral Health
In the current climate of healthcare reform, and particularly with the emergence of the HITECH Act, EHRs (electronic health records) are the hot topic. As a behavioral and mental health care provider, it’s easy to feel lost in the sea of available information, and it can be difficult to find a system that meets your specific needs. There are so many EHRs and EMRs (electronic medical records) on the market, but much of what’s available (both products and information) is suited for medical doctors and doesn’t apply to our needs or field.
Whether you’re shopping for a practice management system for your practice, wanting to learn more about the world of electronic records or just considering the pros and cons of getting away from paper records, let us help you navigate the potentially overwhelming world of HIT (health information technology):
Mental Health Practice Management in a Nutshell
The goal of EHRs and EMRs is to store and seamlessly link all of the records necessary for a client/patient. For example, instead of taking notes by hand during a therapy session; keeping track of this client’s used authorizations on an Excel spreadsheet; and then compiling this data to create an invoice for an insurance company, an EMR should allow you to automate these processes and connect all of the records involved along the way. This saves you time by effortlessly linking these vital pieces of your workflow.
All of the elements of care you need to keep track of should be assembled and connected by your EHR into a cohesive and automated electronic filing system. For example, when you create your note for a session, your EHR might automatically decrement the authorization for the visit; give you an error message if you have recorded too few lines for the auth used; and create a claim for billing.
When it comes time to invoice, you may be able to send one batch of invoices to a clearinghouse that parses out all of the claims to the separate insurance companies for you and receive back one electronic remittance batch (an 835 RA) that you can then apply to your open invoices with a few button clicks.
Why Should You Consider Electronic Record Software?
While it’s easy for anyone to be intimidated by changing the way we’ve always done business and consider adopting new methods, you can imagine the time-saving and organization benefits possible with EHRs. Of course, the efficacy and efficiency depends on the EHR itself, and you’ll have to take the time to make sure that whatever system you choose streamlines your processes.
The 2 essential keys to making an EHR truly work for you are 1) finding the right system and 2) ensuring that you and your staff are thoroughly trained on the program to maximize the benefits it offers. Those aren’t always easy things to do, especially if you’re short on time, don’t know where to start and/or aren’t sure what you’re looking for in an EMR! See 7 Steps to Finding the Right EHR for Your Practice and Software Shopping Tips for more information.