There are many clinical software solutions available to behavioral health providers. However, behavioral health and addiction treatment are varied and complex – not just any clinical software solution is cut out to help providers in this space succeed.
That’s why it’s important for these organizations to find a clinical software solution that is specifically designed for the treatment they deliver.
To aid you in this search, we’ve identified 4 EHR features that every behavioral health clinician needs to deliver excellent care:
- Clinical Documentation
- Comprehensive Scheduler
- Clinical Workflows
- Clinical Compliance Solutions
1) Clinical Documentation
EHR documentation can be a bit of a broad term, so we’ll zero in on perhaps the most important clinical documentation: the progress note.
Progress notes serve a variety of functions, from recording and tracking treatment information to fulfilling billing requirements.
As a result, several different users and departments interact with every note. We’ve found that the exact way those users and departments interact with progress notes is a little different at every organization.
That’s why the best progress note software offers a high degree of configuration. You want your EHR to accommodate and facilitate your process rather than have the software dictate how you do business.
For an even deeper dive on progress notes, check out this blog written by our Product Specialist. She explores what she believes to be the two most critical progress note features in the behavioral health setting.
Progress notes and all other clinical documentation (forms, assessments, surveys, etc.) should be designed in a way that makes the capture of information easy. Ideally, much of the information in clinical documentation will be pre-populated or auto-filled for the user.
The best clinical software solutions inject efficiency and synergy into your operation. Your users shouldn’t have to worry about excess clicks or double entry.
That efficiency and synergy are mainly accomplished via an EHR’s workflow engine. Workflows define a system’s intelligent automation, which we will get into a little later.
2) Dynamic Scheduler
The clinical environment can be hectic. EHR scheduling tools are crucial for organizing all the moving parts and appointments at your operation.
A dynamic scheduler helps the admissions staff coordinate and complete their tasks, and gives clinicians a clear picture of who they are treating and when.
In addition to those standard individual patient encounters, there are a variety of other appointments and meetings that an EHR scheduler should be able to account for.
For example, in behavioral health, you’ll have group therapy sessions, staff meetings, billable appointments, non-billable appointments. A comprehensive scheduler needs to be able to present these different events clearly and intuitively for the user.
One last note – you want to make sure your EHR’s schedule is integrated with your entire system. Ideally, every program and level of care is working off the same schedule. That way, everyone’s schedule is updated in real-time as appointments are scheduled.
Any less synergy and you risk confusion, double bookings, and uncertainty regarding staff availability.
3) Clinical Workflows
We like to think of workflows as the nervous system of your EHR.
Workflows describe the internal logic of your software. They work behind the scenes, automating the EHR’s core functions.
At best, that logic is highly intelligent and makes the technology intuitive for the user. At worst, they lock you into a rigid way of doing things.
In behavioral health, clinical workflows have to be able to support the industry’s complex and highly-individualized processes. As a result, the best workflow engines are highly configurable.
Providers are best served by an EHR that can precisely reflect the logic of their operation. That flexibility ensures that you’ll never outgrow your platform. Having the ability to precisely tailor your software to your needs, no matter how much they change, promotes a high degree of software and staff performance.
When assessing an EHR’s workflow engine, be mindful of the clinical decision support tools it contains as well.
Decision support tools are like the system’s built-in safeguards that help users make the most informed decision possible. The most common decision support functions are things like automated alerts and notifications.
They serve as automated checks and balances meant to facilitate safe and efficient treatment. Contraindication checking is a great example. This tool helps support a clinician’s decision by alerting them if they try to prescribe a medication that may be harmful to a patient.
4) Clinical Compliance Solutions
Behavioral health organizations must comply with state regulations, insurance requirements, and accreditation standards.
Staying compliant in all the necessary areas is a complicated, ongoing task for any provider.
State regulations fluctuate and can vary considerably. Even counties within the same state often differ in standards and processes. Behavioral health billing poses a similar challenge in that different requirements must be met for each insurance company.
And then there are your accreditations and certifications. In behavioral health, the two most common accrediting bodies are JCAHO and CARF. They each require organizations to meet certain standards that must be followed and documented.
To achieve compliance in all three situations simultaneously, providers need some pretty robust compliance software tools at their disposal.
The most powerful compliance solutions will be intuitively automated to eliminate as much chance of human error as possible. The best way to pass any compliance audit is for your system to be consistently auditing itself and your process.
Your software should keep you compliant in real-time so that audits aren’t stressful or costly.
Behavioral Health Software Solutions: Further Education
We hope you have a better understanding of what you need out of your clinical software solutions. In our experience, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers need rather robust tech to fulfill their needs.
That often means requiring several other software solutions besides one designed specifically for the clinical environment.
Be mindful that if your organization requires more than one solution, you’re best served by an enterprise EHR, or a platform that houses multiple solutions in a single system.
That provides maximum synergy across your operation, makes life easier on your users, and facilitates safe and efficient treatment.
If you’d like any more information on enterprise EHRs, we’d love to speak to you! It’s kind of our thing here at Sigmund.