Some behavioral health practices are suffering today because they are not adequately prepared to deal with changes in the medical industry. From new reporting requirements to quality initiatives to provider reimbursement changes, it is a challenging time for practices of all types.
Patient dissatisfaction is a rising concern for psychiatry practices. Reasons often involve practice operations and workflow. If your patients are unhappy with the wait times they must endure before seeing the doctor, why are they having to wait so long? If e-prescriptions are problematic and patients have to keep calling in for details or other issues, is there something that lies at the root of this problem?
As electronic health record technology has gone mainstream, psychiatry practices, like most other medical professions, have adopted the technology to run their practices. Whereas in the past you would have had to look office policies if your patients were unhappy, today the most logical place to start is with your EHR, simply because of how influential it is in how your practice runs.
Digging a bit deeper can help determine what specific elements of your psychiatry EHR may be culpable. Two in particular stand out: usage statistics and system design and usability.
How well are your staff using the system? That’s the fundamental question. If your staff is not using your EHR effectively, then this may be creating bottlenecks as they serve patients, resulting in dissatisfied patients. Factors that may influence to what extent your staff use the EHR include:
- Training: If your staff has not been trained sufficiently, they may struggle to use it effectively.
- Stakeholder inclusion: If the staff was not consulted when the EHR was being sourced and purchased, then there may be some resistance towards fully embracing the new system.
- Motivation: What was the motive behind getting the EHR? Was it just to garnish the bottom line with incentive payments or to genuinely improve your staff’s workflow and work experience? Either way, your staff will know.
System Design and Usability
Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is almost always a disconnect between how a system is designed and how users use it. Most of the top EHRs recruit medical specialists. For instance, for psychiatry, the company will ensure actual mental health experts are involved in the EHR design and development process to ensure that end users get what they need, rather than what software developers think they need.
As a psychiatrist, usability is paramount, because if you are struggling to use a system, your practice and patients end up suffering as well.
If you have a psychiatry EHR that is well-designed and fully utilized by your staff, then you can confidently eliminate it as causing workflow problems. On the other hand, if you do identify usage or usability issues, you may need to first do a thorough re-evaluation of your EHR system before expanding your investigation to other areas of your practice.