Make the most of an EHR

6 Ways a Mental Health Provider Can Make the Most of An EHR

Too many physicians are reporting that their EHR has made life harder on them, instead of easier, as they had anticipated.  In fact, one third of physicians reported a drop in their practice’s efficiency after implementing an EHR, according to one industry survey. This is more than likely the result of not using their system as optimally as they should, or that they may need a different EHR system altogether.

As an independent psychiatrist, you have very specific needs with respect to the way an EHR works with your practice. Following are 6 ways to make your EHR improve your practice’s efficiency instead of thwarting your efforts:

1. Have A Patient Portal that Expedites Payment

A patient-facing portal is an integral asset for meeting the patient engagement requirements in Medicare’s EHR Incentive Program. You’ll also reduce time spent logging information that the patient can easily enter online – including health histories and current medications.

A robust patient portal tailored for a mental health practice provides processes and alerts for demographic entry, insurance eligibility, appointment confirmation emails, appointment reminder communication, and referral/authorization information. These alerts and reminders also facilitate the completion of essential pre-visit functions that reduce bottlenecking at the front desk.

2. Use A Patient Portal with the right EHR to Ensure That You Get Paid:

  • Facilitate eligibility checking by putting insurance, deductible and copayment information at your fingertips.
  • Optimize front desk operation by utilizing alerts to collect at the visit, cutting the need for inefficient billing, follow-up, and collection activities.
  • Use special psychiatry-specific modifiers to inform about a patient’s global period status, and whether it’s acceptable to bill for other procedures beyond the current procedure before they’re scheduled.
  • Track past-due bills, so that patients carrying overdue balances are automatically charged late fees. Keep in mind that collection efforts are more effective if prices and payment options are communicated up front. When you’re transparent about pricing, patients know where they stand.

3. Train Staff Well to Fully Utilize Your EHR

You and your staff may not automatically acclimate to your EHR right away. It’s nearly impossible to learn all of the nuances of the system in just one week’s worth of training. When your staff is properly trained, the onboarding process is much faster, and data is not compromised by faulty entry and mistakes. A proper takeoff means a faster productivity increase for your ENT practice.

  • It’s vital to fully utilize all learning base resources that your EHR vendor makes available to your practice, such as any webinars, whitepapers, or training modules.
  • Templates can be more difficult than they seem. If you’re not sure how to use your system’s templates, shortcuts, and triggers, ask your EHR vendor for help. If you have a system that already provides mental health specialty-specific templates, that’s a huge head start to getting your system up and in place.

4. Collaborate With Colleagues and Your EHR Vendor

  • Gain insight by talking to other doctors about what is working for them and let them know what’s working for you.
  • Consider letting your EHR vendor observe and evaluate your psychiatry practice by following you around for a day at your office to identify operational patterns, and help you create optimal workflows. This in-office observation can be much more effective than a phone call in helping you maximize your EHR system, overall efficiency and practice revenue.

5. Project Risk Management Should Be Seamless

Specific risks are inherent to a psychiatry specialty, and an optimal EHR system should help you reduce project risks like delays, redundant work, disputes, and inefficiency that directly turn into additional costs. Records must kept of the progress and completion of tasks, along with pertinent details such as who completed the action, when it was done, and any changes made.

  • When you make a diagnosis or recommend a procedure, relevant education information should be automatically emailed to the patient as well as printed at the front desk to be given to patients at checkout. Specific education content should be tied to diagnostic codes so that patient education is seamlessly linked to charting.
  • Recalling patients for routine visits should also be automated. Alerts should be programmed in and modified based on practice preference and commonly accepted clinical guidelines. Then the system can alert patients by phone, SMS or email, freeing up your front desk for more essential revenue-building functions.
  • An order tracking system can mitigate the risks associated with diagnostic labs and testing that is not received in a timely manner or acted upon. From the minute a test is ordered until the minute the patient is notified, practices need to be able to monitor the status of all orders, systematize patient follow-up, and document all actions.

6. Get Input From Your Team

The best source for finding workflow breakdowns is to ask those who are immersed in it. Increase EHR-specific communication within your mental health practice. Set aside some time for physicians and staff to meet to discuss challenges, frustrations, and opportunities, as it might illuminate areas in need of improvement that you may have missed.

  • When a team works cohesively, it limits the need for management to intervene on the business’s processes and allows it to function effectively.
  • Closely scrutinize the workflow in your psychiatry practice. Identify where current processes are being bogged down, and effect organizational change. Delegate well.
  • Simply getting an EHR for your practice isn’t enough. It needs to be the right one for your business, and every effort should be made to get it functioning properly before implementation. It’ll be some degree of work first, but you’ll see the payoff immediately.

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