What Makes Mental Health Practice Management Different?
by Leigh-Ann Renz, 9.7.16
Let’s be honest: mental + behavioral health are their own animal. While integrated care is promising advancements in the treatment of the whole client – and science continues to affirm the innate, often inexplicable, connection between the body and mind – the format in which mental health treatment is administered is different than general medicine.
This means that an efficient mental / behavioral health EHR, EMR, or Practice Management System should support the protocols unique to your field:
General medicine doesn’t usually prescribe treatment in approved batches, with a limit on how many sessions total are allowed but freedom to utilize the approved sessions when desired or as needed. Any EHR you choose should offer comprehensive authorization management to address this format unique to mental health.
For example, PIMSY will send you reminder alerts when a certain number of sessions remain – and / or as you approach the expiration date. It will also prevent a clinician from releasing a note with an expired authorization code, ensuring that you only bill for approved sessions.
Axes system (GAF/CGAF/WHODAS)
Because mental + behavioral health treatments encompass many disabilities, Axes system measurements like the WHODAS are often a requirement in our field. Having a practice management software with integrated Axes protocol tracking can be invaluable - and may greatly affect reimbursements - depending on how often you utilize it.
Group + Team Notes
Note FormattingMental / behavioral health typically produces more nuanced notes than general medicine. There are often varying degrees of note styles with different criteria depending on diagnosis - versus click off check boxes with just a few free-form notes (the format often standard at the doctor’s office).
Depending on what type of services you provide and what format of notes you typically use (and the variety thereof), ensuring that you have access to the session note formats you need may be a deal breaker in the type of EHR you select. Be sure to ask to see the available options demoed for any systems you consider.
Many types of general medicine don’t include treatment plans, and one way that mental health practice management systems differ from general EMR is that they should offer integrated treatment planning.
Ideally, treatment plans interface seamlessly with the notes so that the clinician can easily pull the goals and objectives up into the body of the note for each session. Not only does this enhance client care, it can also be integral to receiving maximum reimbursements, depending on the supporting documentation requirements of your payers.
Extensive Standard Evaluations
Mental + behavioral health often have their own nuanced standard evaluations that can be quite extensive, such as ABEL or ASAM. The physical evaluations of general medicine are often reported via separate test results – or, when reported within the session data, tend to be more concise because they’re based on concrete factors that are typically easier to measure.
Behavioral health is unique in that the evaluations often aren’t clear cut, often take longer to administer, and may require extensive testing. This is true even in practices that rely more heavily on medical testing + tracking, such as substance abuse / usage or eating disorder treatment. You'll want to select a practice management program that supports more detailed evaluations, with the option to customize them to your needs.
What About PIMSY?
PIMSY mental health EHR offers seamless authorization management, Axes protocol tracking + tools, Group Notes and Team Notes, and integrated Treatment Planning (including optional access to the Wiley Treatment Planner Library). PIMSY offers a variety of note templates and allows you to customize the notes, treatment plans, and evaluations to your own unique parameters. PIMSY is enterprise-level EMR at an affordable price.
While it might be tempting to try and stretch a one-size-fits-all EHR around your practice needs, there are reasons that specific mental health software systems exist. Mental + behavioral health (including inpatient services, IOP, and substance abuse treatment) have unique protocols that deserve integrated tailored solutions.
Manual work-arounds to patch together your practice needs diminishes the ultimate purpose of EHRs: to increase efficiency, maximize payer reimbursements, and enhance client care.