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How Community Behavioral Health EHR Helps Practices and the People They Serve

How Community Behavioral Health EHR Helps Practices and the People They Serve

During the COVID-19 pandemic, community behavioral health centers (CBHCs) have been struggling to meet rising demands for access to their services. Awareness of various behavioral health conditions is more important than ever. Finding solutions - like the community behavioral health EHR (electronic health record) - that help all community practices become more data-driven and efficient is key to success.

Overview of the community behavioral health landscape

CBHCs are agencies that provide behavioral health services to individuals in their communities. These services include serious mental illness (SMI) and substance use disorder (SUD). A mix of government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations deliver services, and they are funded in part by Medicaid and Medicare, as well as county, state and federal programs, private payers, and self-payers.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Community Mental Health Act. It set the stage for the development of CBHCs, which ushered in a new optimism for behavioral healthcare access throughout the country. It made it possible for clients who had been "warehoused" in distant hospitals and institutions to return to their communities. The CBHCs proved treatment could be more effective and cost-efficient than traditional psychiatric hospitals.

One of the primary challenges facing the broad mix of CBHCs is the necessity to gather, analyze and report quality care metrics. Doing so decreases costs and improves access to care and evidence-based treatment modalities. The complex populations of clients have further challenged CBHCs. This affects workforce shortages and treatment delays. Clients with SMIs and serious emotional disturbance (SED) further challenge staff. It's time for CBHCs to innovate with improved EHRs and through delivery models and team-based care. However, this requires data sharing and interoperability.

The certified community behavioral health clinic (CCBHC) model and the role of the CCBHC EHR

The CCBHC program model provides a solution for struggling CBHCs. The CCBHC is a specially-designated clinic that receives flexible funding to expand the scope of services in their community. CCBHCs are certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). Today, 340 CCBHCs are operating in 40 states, Washington D.C. and Guam.

CCBHCs must include these nine areas of service:

  1. Crisis behavioral health services.
  2. Screening, assessment and diagnosis.
  3. Client-centered treatment planning.
  4. Outpatient behavioral health and SUD services.
  5. Outpatient clinic primary care screening and monitoring of key health indicators and health risks.
  6. Targeted case management.
  7. Psychiatric rehabilitation services.
  8. Peer, counselor and family support.
  9. Care for members of the armed forces and veterans.

CBHCs seeking CCBHC certification and funding must upgrade their community behavioral health EHR systems to meet the criteria. Features that result will transform CBHCs to meet their challenges.

CCBHC EHR systems:

  • Contain primary care, behavioral health and case management records.
  • Enable e-prescribing.
  • Generate e-care plans.
  • Provide quality measure reports.
  • Include clinical decision support.
  • Include laboratory results in health records.
  • Communicate with the laboratory to request tests or receive results.
  • Exchange clinical information with other providers and designated collaborating organizations.

Required reported measures that must be sourced from the CCBHC EHR include:

  • The number or percent of new client initial evaluation within 10 days.
  • Weight assessment and counseling for nutrition and physical activity for children or adolescents.
  • Depression remission at 12 months.
  • Preventive care and screening for:
    • Adult body mass index and follow-up.
    • Tobacco use and cessation intervention.
    • Unhealthy alcohol use and brief counseling.
  • Suicide risk assessment for:
    • Child and adolescent major depressive disorder.
    • Adult major depressive disorder.

The key benefits of a community behavioral health EHR

EHRs help providers better manage care through:

  • Accurate, complete point of care information.
  • More coordinated and efficient care through quick access to records.
  • Secure sharing of health data with clients and other providers.
  • The reduction of medical errors, improved diagnoses and safer care.
  • Effective and reliable client-to-provider communication.
  • Safe and more reliable prescribing.
  • Legible, complete documentation and accurate, streamlined coding and billing.
  • Privacy and security of client data.
  • Improved productivity and work-life balance.
  • Improved efficiency to meet business goals.
  • The reduction of costs by several efficiencies throughout the practices.


It’s been 58 years since President Kennedy paved the way for community behavioral health. Data-driven innovations like the community behavioral health EHR, dedicated CCBHC EHR and interoperability now pave the way for improved client care and efficiency in the information age.

Contact Core Solutions, Inc. today so we can help you meet your EHR criteria for CCBHC certification. Our Core Cx360 platform is your solution. Let us show you how.

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