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Last updated: November 26, 2020
Like most specialty practices, behavioral health EMRs depend on additional features, usually unavailable in general EMRs, to perform day to day tasks. For example, such practices need:
It means it is often hard to find an electronic medical record system specifically designed for mental health practice. It is due to this reason that most mental health practitioners are slow adopters of such technology. Till 2015, only 61% of behavioral health practitioners had deployed an EMR system. Even now, though the numbers have improved, most practices prefer a standalone eprescribing module over an EMR.
In this guide, we will discuss:
There could be many reasons why a behavioral health medical practice is seeking EMR software. Here are the most common ones:
Many trends are happening in electronic medical records for psychiatry and behavioral health software. Here are a few you should consider when selecting a product and vendor:
Standalone e-prescribing software allows you to access a patient's prescription benefit coverage, prescription history, along with providing a bi-directional interface for placing prescription orders with a patient's preferred pharmacy.
These systems are usually less costly and easy to implement as compared to an EHR, which is why they are so popular.
While e-prescribing is one of the functions inbuilt within an EMR, an EMR does much more by automating most processes in your medical practice. It also helps you analyze information in a patient's medical history to make more informed decisions even while prescribing medication to the patient. For example, past allergies, drug-to-drug interactions, and the probability of drug dependence, especially in the case of opioids, are all crucial information that can be highlighted by an EMR.
You can also apply for government incentives and avoid penalties by using an EMR over a standalone eprescribing software.
However, these benefits will only hold if you opt for a specialty-specific solution rather than a general EMR. Here is a list of features that you will need to run your mental health practice.
Once you have committed to the idea of deploying a mental health EMR over a generic system, here are the features and capabilities to look out for.
Typical EHR Features
Patients feel more comfortable when they receive treatment in less clinical settings. In your niche, you need patients to relax, feel comfortable, and engage. How else will they share about their private lives?
Something as simple as enhanced communication can help create this patient-friendly environment. Therefore your behavioral health EHR software should support SMS sending, email to patients, and sharing of information. When patient records' details can easily be utilized for these actions, engaging with clients will happen more often, because it's effortless for you and your staff.
Medication isn't part of all behavioral health professionals' tasks, which emphasizes the importance of finding a product that fits with your specific niche.
If prescriptions do fall under your list of activities, you can look forward to a streamlined, safer, and less time-consuming process. Instead of physically writing them, your EMR software can facilitate an e-prescribing process. Repeat prescriptions are super easy to manage as the system will alert you when it's necessary.
Some EMRs can also help monitor your prescriptions and alert you to possible side effects based on patients' details or drug interactions that could be harmful. It proves the importance of having all aspects of your practice work together as well as how far software development has come.
When tech helps you monitor your decisions, you can relax more, regain focus, and concentrate on the patient in front of you.
This is a primary reason many professionals invest in niche-specific EMRs. When your software provides you with templates and workflows for your area of expertise, it cuts down on the time you usually use for documenting details of a visit.
The EMR should contain notes, sub-notes, forms, and treatment plans relating to the conditions you treat each day. Some of these can include but are not limited to dis-order templates such as:
It will make it quick and easy to record data you gleaned during a consultation.
When you save time here, you have more time for your patients.
You know it seems very impersonal when you start taking notes while someone is sharing their life story with you. But notes are imperative to what you do for patients.
With a high-end Behavioral Health EMR this problem is averted:
Instead of tech making healthcare more clinical, it can make it extremely personal.
Apart from your EMR integrating with features in your office, you also need to stay connected to other role players. You're probably part of a network that provides the high-quality care your patients need:
Keep paperwork to a minimum and let your EMR manage these interactions. Lab results must be received and added to patient records easily. When you do a referral or want to share patient records, it's secure and quick to do it via an EMR; But it only works if your program is compatible with others in the field.
A one-size-fits-all EHR cannot work for a behavioral health facility. Mental health experts treat clients in inpatients, outpatients, partial-inpatient, and other blended treatment plans.
The best behavioral health EMR will allow physicians to provide care in all of these care settings.
Confidentiality is of utmost importance in the mental health space. Concerns regarding cybersecurity are one of the leading reasons why most practitioners are hesitant in deploying an EMR system in mental health settings. Apart from opting for a HIPAA compliant solution, a BH EHR must have multiple layers of access based on user credentials. It means that only authorized team members will be able to create patient records or access and modify them.
Behavioral Health EMRs are priced lower as compared to other specialty EMRs. Usually, they range anywhere between $25 to $150. Several factors can impact this price, which includes:
You can find detailed pricing for top behavioral health EMRs by downloading our EMR pricing guide for behavioral health practices.
There are a few approaches you could use here.
You can either opt for a general family practice EMR that is offered by almost all vendors in the market or go for a specialized product created by a company that only deals with mental health solutions. In either case, be aware of the following:
Size – Some products are best-suited to large practices, while others cater better to smaller ones. All EMR systems are built by keeping a certain number of users, support, and scalability in mind. It is essential to keep in mind the size of your practice while selecting a vendor.
System Design – A practice chooses a system based on their personal choice and comfort level. Some physicians prefer having software on their computer server as it is more compliant with HIPAA requirements, while others would want to have access to their database anytime, anywhere. You'll need to consider vendors who fulfill these needs.
If you practice behavioral and mental health and nothing else, here are a few good options for you to consider:
To set up an EHR system, you don't have to waste a lot of time, energy, and money. You can use charting features in minutes, with the opportunity to make your system a tailor-fit. Choose the software that offers enough customization to suit the way you practice.
When differentiating between mental and behavioral health, it is of utmost importance to know that behavioral health is the umbrella term that includes mental health.
Yes, many vendors serve mainly to the mental health community and some that are designed to cater to psychiatry. To review EHRs that are geared toward mental health providers, visit our behavioral health software listing
Our Top picks for mental health Vendors include: