Psychiatry EHR: distinctive features, use cases, and adoption guidelines
June 20, 2023
According to Mental Health America, 50 million Americans suffered from mental illness in 2022, yet over half didn’t receive treatment. One of the top reasons for such inadequate care is the lack of connection and proper data exchange between psychiatric and primary care providers. Thus, enhancing healthcare software interoperability is crucial to improve the population's mental health. And electronic health records (EHR) implementation in psychiatric organizations is the first and most vital step of this journey.
EHR in psychiatry is used to manage patient data, which includes physical (e.g., temperature, blood pressure) and mental health parameters (e.g., GAF charts), as well as billing and insurance details. EHR can also enhance psychiatry workflows with specific tools like mental status assessment templates.
Psychiatry electronic records software in numbers
psychiatrists legally practice in the US
American Psychiatric Association
psychiatrists use EHR in their practice
National Library of Medicine
expected CAGR of the US behavioral health EHR market size by 2030
Grand View Research
Psychiatry EHR system architecture
Though psychiatrists and mental health professionals have different workflows, they often use the same core electronic health records system, supplementing it with third-party integrations if needed.
Scheme title: Mental health EHR architecture
Main features of psychiatry EHR
Psychiatry EHR differs from other specialized software because it incorporates templates, terminology, and security settings for the mental health field that don’t match with those of general medicine.
- Extended medical and mental health information
- Immunization tracker
- Treatment history
- Adverse reactions log
- Point of access for patients and caregivers
- Appointment scheduler and reminder
- SOAP notes templates for a variety of conditions
- Pre-screening questionnaires
- Comprehensive dashboards with medical information
- Task trackers and reminders
- E-prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS)
Analytics and reporting
- Symptomatic pattern identification
- Mental condition changes’ forecasting
- Treatment effectiveness assessment
- Department productivity evaluation
Security and compliance
- Multi-factor authentication
- Layered distributed access control
- End-to-end data encryption
- Secure data transfer channels and protocols
- Audit trail
- Insurance information storage
- Payer details specification
- ICD-10 and ICD-9 psychiatric billing codes suggestions
- Claim status check
Digitalization of healthcare workflows
- Voice recognition and input
- Chatbots and voice assistants for automatic documentation handling
- Data exchange with medical IoT and other healthcare software
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Top 10 use cases for behavioral health EHR
We recommend implementing an EHR/EMR system that is at least partially customized to fit your specific practice. There’s an abundance of modules that support the most common psychiatry specialties.
Mental health EHR software
Psychiatry EHR success examples
Implementing an EHR solution tailored to a mental healthcare organization’s specifics boosts productivity and reduces expenses, which is proven by behavioral health providers’ success stories.
A small psychiatric practice in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, rapidly adapted to the influx of patients related to COVID-19 by implementing a specialized EHR. It achieved fiscal and clinical transparency, reduced prior authorization time from 24 hours to just one, and improved staff efficiency and satisfaction with voicemails and dictated notes transcription and transfer directly into the EHR.
Siouxland Mental Health Center facilitated care coordination among 14+ inpatient and outpatient settings and enhanced clinical workflows for 80+ medical professionals with specialized InSync behavioral health EHR and its customizable templates. Additionally, the new system simplified billing and reporting for regulatory compliance.
People sometimes don’t understand it’s not just about doing the notes — how effectively you’re communicating with a patient is important.
Sanjay K. Nigam, MD
I would say 90% of what we do now is in the system, whereas before, only 40% of what we did was in the system, and we just spent hours scanning and uploading paperwork.
Psychiatry EHR integrations
EHR is at the heart of a psychiatry practice: interconnecting with other healthcare software, EHR improves an entire organization’s productivity.
Key integration options
Mental healthcare providers are using telehealth more frequently than any other specialists. Get an instant 360 view of a patient's health and make more data-based diagnoses by connecting your telemedicine platform to an EHR.
The success of psychiatric treatment depends mainly on trust between a patient and a provider. Give your patients more power over their health by allowing them to view and manage information about their condition via an EHR-connected patient portal.
Patient health monitoring is crucial for psychiatric practice. Get notified when your patient has an elevated heart rate due to an oncoming panic attack and view walking balance charts of patients with vestibular dysfunction from patients’ smart devices in your EHR.
Organize your psychiatry organization’s resources and personnel’s workload to streamline appointments and satisfy patients’ needs by integrating your HMS with EHR.
Give patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers the freedom to view and manage mental health information from anywhere at any time by integrating EHR with mobile apps.
With the help of integrated analytics software, you can understand your patients’ mental health patterns and their underlying causes more deeply and deliver especially personalized diagnosis and treatment.
How to choose and implement psychiatry EMR/ EHR software
With such a robust variety of electronic health records software on the market, behavioral healthcare providers sometimes need help to choose and adopt the most fitting solution. Learn the eleven steps that lead to successful mental health EHR implementation.
Consider the size of your patient base and the number of healthcare professionals that will use the system.
Identify the workflows that need upgrading with the help of EHR and base your requirements on them. Include psychiatry specialists in the discussion, as they are ultimately the system's end-users.
Create a vision of the perfect EHR solution - functionality, integrations, the amount of data it has to store, and the platforms and devices it should run on.
Evaluate your current infrastructure and how it fits into your implementation vision. Some parts could require an upgrade (e.g., new devices, a better internet connection).
Estimate the EHR implementation budget. Explore the market to understand the average cost of the envisioned system, including the hidden fees.
Shortlist vendors according to your requirements and budget. Ask for demos and discuss all the details, i.e.: meaningful use requirements, data backups, upgrades and scalability, etc.
Choose a vendor to work with and prepare a thorough implementation roadmap.
Stick to the plan and collaborate closely with the development team to ensure you are on the same page regarding the system’s usability.
Ensure the correct data migration once the system is ready.
Conduct personnel user training for the implemented psychiatry EHR.
Perform annual evaluations of the software efficiency and upgrade if necessary.
Benefits of EHR in psychiatry
Behavioral health EHR/EMR adoption challenges
Mental health care providers can encounter several challenges while adopting psychiatric medical records software. However, most of them can be solved by carefully choosing, integrating, and tuning the EHR/EMR system.
Psychiatry specialists fear that the system will take their attention away from patient care.
Surveys show that EHR/EMR software explicitly tuned for the particular field simplifies data entry, which lets personnel spend less time on clinical documentation and focus on patients’ needs. If it takes too much time and effort for a psychiatrist to fill in the intake forms, it’s a clear sign that their EHR system should be tuned, updated, or replaced with a more fitting solution.
Some practitioners believe that patient records would be susceptible to hacker attacks or loss due to system failure.
It’s crucial to adopt software developed under the healthcare industry’s security standards and data protection regulations. Choose an ONC-certified, HIPAA-compliant solution with powerful security capabilities (multi-factor authentication, distributed access control, data encryption, etc.) to better protect your patients' data. Additionally, it’s necessary to back up medical practice software, including EHR/EMR, to prevent data loss or damage.
A lot of private practices claim that the cost of the psychiatry EMR/EHR is too high.
There are a variety of pricing models for behavioral health EHR/EMR software, with many of them suited for solo and small practices. If none fits, an open-source EHR is another option to consider. Though its capabilities could be limited, it will still enable you to create patient profiles and define treatment plans, automate appointment scheduling, simplify medical billing, and so on.
Focus on the patient, not the paperwork
In psychiatry, transparent communication between the specialist and the patient is crucial, as well as the smooth coordination between the psychiatrist and primary care provider. Electronic health records software facilitates multiple behavioral medicine workflows, including progress notes, outcome reporting, treatment decisions, patient support, documentation, and financial management. But it can also hinder the patient experience and personnel satisfaction if implemented incorrectly. Our experts work closely with clinicians to implement a solution with functionality valuable to your practice, smoothly integrate it with necessary third-party software, and ensure its interoperability with other healthcare solutions.
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