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3 Ways an EHR Can Augment Behavioral Health Practice Management

3 Ways a Comprehensive Behavioral Health EHR Can Drive Organizational Performance

Given the competitive healthcare landscape, pace of payment change, and demands on resource-challenged providers to improve access and outcomes, pressures to strengthen behavioral health practice management and performance are reaching new levels. Those in mental health, intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), and substance use disorder (SUD) care settings are recognizing that better information management and mechanisms are needed to support such efforts.

Download Now: The Ultimate Guide to Behavioral Health EHR Selection

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 EHR can be the performance difference-maker today’s behavioral health providers should be looking for. 

1. Attaining More Efficiency in Behavioral Health Processes and Workflows

Researchers examining impacts of EHRs have seen significant efficiency gains, with the solutions reducing the hours providers spend on operational tasks — which gives them the opportunity to dedicate more time to direct client care — and improving the bottom line. One study by Marshall University researchers highlighted how collaboration between clinicians and information technology (IT) professionals to optimize EHRs greatly enhanced operations. By working cohesively across four optimization categories, the teams aligned the technology with clinical workflows and saw notable productivity enhancements and increases in monthly charges and payments. 

EHRs built on the most advanced technology assist in process reengineering by bringing more automation to data collection, streamlining administrative tasks, removing redundant steps, and automatically triggering the correct next steps in provider and staff workflows. 

Recent artificial intelligence (AI) advancements provide further time-saving benefits for behavioral health practices. One example of such an AI tool is Core Clinician Assist: Documentation, which is embedded into the Cx360 EHR, uses ambient dictation to record client/provider sessions and produce summaries of the clinical interaction and therapeutic notes. The tool’s abilities also extend beyond individual sessions. Using natural language processing (NLP), Core data mines symptoms across all providers’ (nurses, peers, direct service providers, clinicians, physicians) notes to help identify behavioral health needs more efficiently.   

2. Delivering More Effective Care Experiences and Positive Outcomes

EHRs are also vital for making providers more effective in delivering safe, quality care. Particularly compelling evidence indicates that EHRs with clinical decision support features and pharmacy capabilities can improve client safety by decreasing drug-drug interactions and reducing medication errors. Platforms that include evidence-based practices (EBP) and use innovative tools to analyze the full picture of a client’s experience can improve providers’ assessment abilities and management of behavioral health conditions. 

Core Clinician Assist: Symptom Tracking, also included in Cx360, is both a diagnostic and treatment support tool that uses AI to dig deep into client data, uncover symptoms that wouldn’t otherwise have been apparent, and associate them with potential diagnoses. It aids clinical decision support at the point of care; broadens access for clients in need of mental health, SUD or IDD care; and reinforces strong behavioral health practice management by delivering insights that providers might otherwise miss. These functionalities, in turn, reduce unnecessary services and save valuable resources. Core’s Cx360 platform also has embedded evidence-based practices (EBPs) and a social determinants of health/health-related social needs (SDOH/HRSNs) tracking tool that can identify social determinants of health and health-related social needs at the point of care, arming providers with critical information that can influence positive outcomes.

Further hallmarks of behavioral health EHRs that support effective care include:

  • Customizable alerts that can help route clients by risk. Providers can set risk scores — using past suicide attempts, comorbidities, or other parameters — and the system alerts providers to clients 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.
  • Communication features, like chat and notifications, that improve care coordination, client safety, and clinical outcomes. These features are imperative in behavioral health care environments, where complex care needs and comorbidities can lead to contraindications and duplicative services. EHRs that provide a broader view of the client’s full care experience also help ensure global care coordination that contributes to better overall client health. EHR client portals further engage clients by facilitating communication with the care team and access to screening and monitoring tools that they can share with the care team.

Download Now: The Ultimate Guide to Behavioral Health EHR Selection

3. Gaining Better Business Intelligence With Your Behavioral Health EHR

One of the most powerful ways EHRs are being used to improve behavioral health practice management is seen with advances in business intelligence (BI). Practice leaders are accustomed to using traditional metrics and indicators to assess business performance, such as visit volume, average wait times, no-show rates, collection rates, claims denial rates, service line profitability, and others. A single real-time BI tool makes it easier to identify trends, gain insights into opportunities for improvement, and create mechanisms for accountability across the entire system.

Such business intelligence has contributed to success under fee-for-service payment structures, but today’s behavioral health providers need additional capabilities to support value-based care (VBC) reporting and reimbursement that are only achievable with EHR technology. The best behavioral health EHRs provide robust data collection and analysis, tie together clinical performance and profitability, and include population-level views of health dynamics that can give insights into risk adjustment and comorbidities to help achieve better quality care. Machine learning technology is rapidly scaling the rate at which this data is gathered and the breadth of information available to providers.

Capabilities to track deeper behavioral health performance indicators and visualize data are invaluable to understanding the consequences of medical decisions and are increasingly important to the financial viability of an organization. Capturing and analyzing data are necessary to participate in the contract modeling and performance management needed to be successful under value-based reimbursement models. 

EHRs with AI-backed revenue cycle management are also ideally suited to meet VBC billing requirements by swiftly reviewing rules and claims to reduce denials and speed reimbursement.<

Tips for Aligning Your Behavioral Health Organization Around Data

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. The best behavioral health EHRs are those with reporting and dashboard capabilities that allow the organization to easily customize the data to meet their individual organization needs. Such a setup provides opportunities to build in quality metric tracking while also ensuring the user has immediate access to the most vital information and is shielded from information overload.

Business intelligence should also consider 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, client population segment, and user. Furthermore, access to reports and dashboards should be managed by the organization so only those staff with permissions to a specific report/dashboard will have access to it.

Ensure mobile, cloud-based access to data. Access to meaningful data and therapeutic notes 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 and solutions while securing client health information.

Choose 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. This better ensures that the prompts, workflow modules, and metric tracking and reporting align 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. Having control of and confidence in your data will allow providers to move from walking to running more quickly, thereby optimizing the use of the selected EHR across the organization, which is critical to success. 

To see how Core’s Cx360 EHR provides behavioral health providers with robust dashboard capabilities, business insight opportunities, the latest AI tools, and more ways to support behavioral health practice management, schedule a demo today.


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