News Feature | July 29, 2014

Solutions Providers Miss Opportunities In Behavioral Health

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Behavioral Health Opportunities For Solutions Providers

Is the behavioral health arena a land of opportunity for solutions providers, or too complex to even bother with?

When most people talk EHR implementation, it’s understood to be happening in a traditional medical setting. This means though, that the potential in behavioral health has been ignored. Solutions providers looking to expand their EHR opportunities cannot afford to overlook this complex but growing potential market.

What Is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health includes myriad services ranging from substance abuse issues treated on an outpatient basis to residential psychiatric care. It may include group therapy, individual counseling, crisis stabilization, and even community outreach.

Behavioral Health And EHR

Traditionally, the behavioral health arena has been reluctant to implement EHR systems, largely because of the (incorrect) belief that the comparative complexity of treatment was too much for an EHR system to handle. An additional concern has been EHRs’ focus on physical medical conditions. Of course, cost has also been a factor in organizations’ reluctance to implement the technology.

Benefits For Your Clients

While potential clients might cite the reasons above as reasons to still put off using EHRs, they don’t have many genuine excuses left. Some of the benefits specific to behavioral health organizations implementing EHRs are:

  • Meaningful Use Benefits: Congress is once again considering extending Meaningful Use to behavioral health facilities. Now is the time to start considering implementation.
  • Client And Family Empowerment: This will hinge on design, but a well-built system will support better information capture, and allow behavioral health providers improved documentation that will in turn, benefit clients and their families and care givers.
  • Better Clinician Communication: Clinician-to-clinician communication can be streamlined with the informational abilities of a properly planned EHR system.
  • Interoperability: For behavioral health, this means better information exchange with physical care entities like hospitals and physicians. They will end up with a more objective and better detailed picture of the clients they serve, leading to more informed care decisions.

The Look Of Behavioral Health-Centered EHRs

Healthcare IT News offers an excellent look into what an EHR system centered on the specific needs of behavioral health should be. Ideally, it will offer robust behavioral health content. It also captures free text, but goes beyond that — it delivers interoperability and allows for configuration.

Helping Clients Get Started

To help your clients get the proper benefit from their EHR systems, their clinicians should be directly involved in the selection and configuration processes. Help them keep an eye on the big picture, and stay focused on the main reason they want to implement. On your end, make sure you fully understand their workflows, steps, people and timing, and that they keep reasonable expectations of what can, and can’t be addressed with an EHR system.

Going Deeper

While EHR implementation in behavioral health does hold some differences, you’ll find many similarities to more common implementations. Our library of articles on EHR will undoubtedly be helpful to you as you investigate the potential that the behavioral health market holds for you.