EHR reporting is all about the data.
At its core, reporting features describe a software’s ability to gather and combine different pieces of data in a summary format. They’re the tools that synthesize and organize the raw data a platform collects so that it can be productively analyzed to improve outcomes.
For behavioral health software in particular, reporting features must be especially robust. The spectrum of treatment in this industry is vast, from mental health and counseling services to substance abuse care.
As a result, the reporting features in a behavioral health EHR must be able to interact with a wide variety of data.
To accommodate the reporting needs of behavioral health providers, an EHR vendor should offer a comprehensive reporting suite.
In this blog post, we’ve outlined the different reporting elements that contribute to a modern behavioral health software environment:
- Out-of-the-Box Reports
- Custom-Built Reports
- Static Reports
- Live Reports
- Role-Specific Reports
Continue reading to learn more about each of these elements that make up a complete reporting suite.
Out-of-the-Box EHR Reports
Most EHRs will come preloaded with a collection of out-of-the-box reports. The number and variety will vary depending on the platform.
An out-of-the-box library typically consists of industry-standard reports or the most common and/or necessary reports as deemed by the vendor.
The most comprehensive EHRs provide out-of-the-box reports that cover the full behavioral health system. Ideally, there are preloaded reports that apply to a provider’s administrative, financial, clinical, and operational needs.
The size and diversity of an EHR’s out-of-the-box reports can give you an idea of how robust the larger platform is. If an EHR vendor preloads 800 out-of-the-box reports, that suggests they’re working with some powerful, enterprise software.
However, if they have less than a dozen, you may want to dig deeper and find out why. Not every modest out-of-the-box report library is a red flag, but they do call for some due diligence.
Custom-Built EHR Reports
The alternative to out-of-the-box reports is some form of a custom report builder tool.
This is a critical feature because behavioral health treatment is varied and highly individualized. Even with hundreds of preloaded reports, it’s rare that a library of standard measurements completely fulfills the individual needs of a provider.
The best EHR software can be tailored to fit an organization’s process. Custom reports are an important aspect of that malleability. Users should be empowered to report on every single point of data in the system.
An EHR vendor can’t predict your hyper-specialized reports that are exclusive to your operation.
Users need the option to build custom reports, to choose their filters and organize the data points in the precise ways that their process calls for.
Static EHR Reports
The most traditional type of EHR reports are static reports. Generally, the majority of out-of-the-box reports are static.
These are reports that you “run” the old-fashioned way. They provide accurate data at a specific point in time.
In other words, if you run a static report at 12:00 pm, you’ll get an accurate snapshot of the data at that exact time. However, it will not account for, or include, any changes to the data that occur after 12:00 pm.
Static reports are still a staple in behavioral health treatment. They’re helpful as a tool for review, where managers or supervisors can run reports on segmented data points to get an idea of performance or productivity over a specific timeframe.
Let’s look at the needs of a system administrator, for example.
One static report our clients really like in AURA, Sigmund’s enterprise software solution, is called an Audit Trail.
This is a report that tracks the movements of a user in the EHR. It’s very much a trail of the user’s behavior in the system. This can be a very helpful oversight tool in an admin scenario because, well, users are humans and humans aren’t perfect.
It’s not uncommon for things to get accidentally deleted in the system or changed erroneously. With a tool like AURA’s Audit Trail, a supervisor can run a report that shows every user that interacted with the piece of documentation that contains the error.
With the click of a button, the admin has all the information they need to identify where that mistake occurred and who made it.
Live EHR Reports
Live reports represent the other half of an EHR’s reporting infrastructure.
These are dynamic modules that update in real-time. They give providers the most up-to-date measurement of a certain data set, often in the form of an intuitive visualization or dashboard.
Live reports enhance the overall speed and efficiency in how users can gather relevant data. Another less obvious benefit, though, is how live reports help a provider tailor the software to their processes.
Live reports are essentially static reports that are constantly updating to reflect the most current data.
They’re often measurements that a provider would normally run reports on with some frequency. It simplifies the process of having to run a static report every time you need that data.
As a result, an organization’s workflows often dictate where and when live reports are most useful.
Because live reports are real-time measurements, they are very helpful in a supervisory or oversight capacity. Different roles call for different reports, so an EHR should offer some flexibility in how providers can build them.
Supervisors often wear several hats in the clinical environment. Live reports are a great way to quickly monitor the tasks and staff they manage.
For example, a behavioral health billing manager benefits greatly from a live report that generates real-time claim status updates from the clearinghouse.
This is especially useful when claims are denied so that the billing team can be notified immediately, correct the claim, and resubmit as fast as possible.
EHR Reporting and Behavioral Health Compliance
Reporting features are critical from a regulatory perspective as well.
There are all sorts of regulations and standards that behavioral health providers must adhere to.
Organizations often have to report on specific data during audits, or regularly report data to accreditation agencies like JCAHO or CARF.
In addition, some of our clients have to use certain reports in the system based on state or county requirements.
In this way, dynamic reporting tools contribute to the strength of organization’s compliance solutions.
EHR Reporting Features and Behavioral Health Outcomes
Reporting features and outcomes solutions go hand in hand in the EHR environment. In fact, they are essentially two sides of the same coin.
To improve outcomes in behavioral health treatment, providers require data to make informed improvements.
An EHR’s outcomes software are only as strong as its ability to dynamically track and measure data.
To learn more about the intersection of reporting and outcomes, check out this blog post that explores the ways an EHR can improve outcomes at any behavioral health organization.