3 Ways a Comprehensive Behavioral Health EHR Can Drive Organizational Performance
by Core Solutions on November 18, 2022
Given the competitive landscape, pace of payment change, and demands on resource-challenged behavioral healthcare providers to improve access and outcomes, pressures to strengthen organization performance are reaching new levels. Those in mental health, intellectual/developmental disability (I/DD), and substance use disorder (SUD) care settings are recognizing better information management and mechanisms are needed to support such efforts.
Enter electronic health record (EHR) solutions. The right behavioral health EHR can deliver automated and data-driven performance improvement, enabling providers to become more efficient, effective, and insightful around their organization’s clinical and financial performance. Let’s look at three ways a comprehensive behavioral health EHR can be the performance difference-maker today’s behavioral health providers should be looking for.
1. Attaining More Efficiency with Your Behavioral Health EHR
Researchers examining impacts of EHRs have seen efficiency and productivity gains using common operational financial measures, including return on assets (i.e., net income divided by total assets) and net patient revenue. Areas of particular benefit have been in improved patient flow and business process redesign.
EHRs built on new technology assist in process reengineering by bringing more automation to data collection, removing redundant tasks, and converting sequential processes to parallel processes. Instead of users needing to think through next steps in processes, the right technology automatically triggers the correct next tasks.
The right behavioral health EHR also helps to substitute actions or streamline administrative tasks using technology to do so, thus allowing clinicians to operate at the top of their licenses. Even small changes, such as automatically bringing in patient data and assessments obtained elsewhere or eliminating the need for repetitive data entry, make for faster processes and free up more time for clinical interaction with patients.
2. Becoming More Effective Using a Behavioral Health EHR
EHR use is also vital for making providers more effective with their efforts. Particularly strong evidence indicates that decision support systems improve patient safety for medication prescribing. In such research, scholars have found that EHRs with decision support capabilities decrease rates of both drug-drug interactions and medication errors.
The impact of decision support systems goes beyond medication prescribing. Electronic prompting of evidence-based practices can improve clinicians’ assessment and care management of behavioral health conditions, while customizable alerts are vital to routing patients by risk. With the right EHR technology, providers can set risk scores — using past suicide attempts, comorbidities, or other parameters — and the system should be able to alert providers to patients who should be triaged for immediate care and appropriate follow-up. Risk stratification allows the organization to adjust resources to those most in need of care.
EHR use also can improve patient safety and clinical outcomes by supporting better communications. Care coordination and medication reconciliation with primary physicians and others across the care continuum are essential when managing the care of behavioral health patients with complex care needs and comorbidities to avoid contraindicated or duplicative services. Understanding and effectively measuring the impact of medical interventions requires access and communications across the patient’s greater universe of care providers.
Technology can also play a key role in the effectiveness of the provider and patient relationship. Increasingly, patient portals through EHRs are used to engage patients with screening and monitoring tools and facilitate direct communications between patients and providers.
3. Gaining Better Business Intelligence with Your Behavioral Health EHR
One of the most powerful ways EHRs are being used to improve operations is seen with advances in business intelligence (BI). Practice leaders are used to using traditional behavioral health performance indicators to assess business performance, such as visit volume, average wait times, no-show rates, collection rates, claims denial rates, service line profitability, and so forth. A single real-time platform view makes it easier to identify trends and gain insights into opportunities for improvement and create systems for accountability across the behavioral health practice management system.
Although such business intelligence continues to be important and contributes to success under fee-for-service payment structures, today’s behavioral health providers need additional capabilities for value-driven reimbursement that are only achievable with EHR technology.
The right EHR facilitates more robust collecting and analyzing of health data and tying together clinical outcome performance and profitability. EHR data makes it easier for behavioral health providers to view health dynamics at a patient population level, giving new insights into risk adjustment and comorbidities as well as severity measurement.
EHR use also is key to facilitating measurement-based practices to improve value of care delivery, managing quality, and cost. EHR data and machine-learning tools are necessary to better understand the consequences of medical decisions.
Capabilities to track these deeper behavioral health performance indicators are increasingly important to the financial viability of the organization. Capturing and analyzing information in these ways is necessary to participate in the contract modeling, performance tracking, and performance managing capabilities needed to be successful under value-based reimbursement models.
Tips for Aligning Your Behavioral Health Organization Around Data
From a practical perspective, behavioral health providers can take several steps to improve their organization’s use of data to achieve the three core areas of benefit discussed above.
✓ Seek customizable dashboards and reporting. EHRs with preset modules by type of facility and user role that enable customization are the ideal. Such a setup provides opportunities to build in best practice metric tracking while also ensuring the user has timesaving, immediate access to the most important information and is shielded from information overload with indicators beyond their areas of interest.
Business intelligence should also take into consideration the needs of multiple users. The optimal behavioral health practice management system will enable users to track performance at the macro and micro level, giving clinical and financial performance insights across the organization and by facility, service line, patient population segment and user.
✓ Ensure mobile, cloud-based access to data. Access to meaningful data at any time and from anywhere supports optimal use of the system and facilitates just-in-time decision making from any location.
✓ Work with HIPAA-compliant, open API platforms. The right behavioral health EHR supports easy data exchange (i.e., interoperability) with other care providers while securing patient health information.
✓ Seek an EHR built specifically for your type of organization. To maximize usefulness of the EHR, seek systems with pre-built modules and dashboards specific to behavioral health that can be configured to your needs. Behavioral health-specific technology best supports the prompts, workflow modules, and metric tracking and reporting that aligns with the specific needs of these unique patient populations
✓ Consider walking, crawling, or running approaches to data-based operations improvements. Data-driven operational improvements don’t usually happen overnight. By focusing on the most meaningful areas and expanding adoption across the organization while adding levels of data tracking, behavioral health providers can best position their organizations for short- and long-term success.
To see how Cx360, the powerful behavioral health platform from Core Solutions, provides behavioral health providers with robust dashboard capabilities, business insight opportunities, and much more, schedule a demo at https://info.coresolutionsinc.com/request-a-demo.
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