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Why Consider Electronic Health Records Now?

EHRs on Telehealth and TelemedicineNow that Accountable Care Organizations are proliferating and effects the Accountable Care Act are becoming more noticeable, mental health professionals are asking themselves if they should take the leap and switch to an Electronic Health Record (EHR). They are going to be difficult to avoid. Getting started now will afford us the chance to grow into the change, rather than requiring a massive switch when our reimbursement sources start penalizing us for not complying. Transitioning to electronic practice management can provide many benefits while allowing you to keep pace with the rest of health care. In our previous blog post, Finally! Easy Q&As about Electronic Health Records (EHR) for Mental Health, we discussed many of the common questions that arise with EHRs. The three blog posts will be devoted to helping you better understand your options for EHRs in your practice as a mental or behavioral health professional. Our next free TMH Institute webinar, Why Consider the EHR Now? An Electronic Health Record (EHR) Primer, will then feature Ms. Lisette Wright, an EHR consultant from OPEN MINDS. She will outline the key issues and answer your questions on February 25th. As you read our upcoming series, send any webinar questions to Dr. Maheu ahead of time. She will be interviewing Ms. Wright for the webinar. This first article will review basic benefits and liabilities involved in EHRs. Why Use an EHR? Benefits of using an EHR are multi-fold and intertwined. They include:   Ease, convenience and reduction of documentation

  • Comprehensive practice management tools that include a scheduling system, billing module, and online insurance claim filing in addition to a basic chart
  • User-friendly templates for progress notes, intake, assessment, and treatment planning
  • Automated payment processing, billing and insurance filing
  • Computer-based scheduling automates convenient functions such as appointment reminders sent to clients via text or email
  • Secure online portal clients can use to access HIPAA compliant email, pay their bills and schedule or change appointments
  • Digital charts save paper, filing space and shredding costs
  • Online access to your client’s chart and contact data from any device anywhere with internet access
  • Chart availability to multiple providers at one time, efficient location and filing of charts, guaranteed legibility, and automatic back-ups in case of disaster
  • Reduced staffing and administrative costs

Are There Any Drawbacks to EHRs? As with all new technology and services, there are potential drawbacks. They include:   

  • Most EHRs charge monthly service fees
  • A significant initial outlay of time or money for initial set-up is often involved
  • A learning curve is often challenging due to developing familiarity with new software and implementing new security practices to protect electronic data
  • New policies and procedures will likely be required
  • Administrative staff will need to be trained
  • New equipment might be needed

Rising to the Challenge: Although finding the right EHR to suit your practice can present a formidable challenge, the opportunity for substantial benefit makes the effort worthwhile. While the sheer volume of choices and options can initially seem overwhelming, seeking the right information at the front end can make the overall process more manageable and enjoyable. Selecting software that doesn’t turn out to meet your expectations and requirements can result in a monumental waste of time, money, and effort. Don’t miss our upcoming articles and webinar. They will help you make an informed choice now, before the pressure is on from all sides to comply. It’s important that you educate yourself about EHRs and carefully consider your needs and priorities as you initiate your EHR software search. Most EHR software vendors offer a free one-month trial of their software and personalized training to help you get started. However, even a test run can turn out to be frustrating and time consuming, so it’s essential that you clarify the key features and other considerations specific to the needs of your practice as you begin your search.   With the right preparation, you are far more likely to be pleased with the search process and most important, to be satisfied with the results.  Stay tuned for our next two TMHI News articles about EHRs. Sign Up for Our FREE EHR Webinar on February 25, 2013 Join us for a FREE 1-hour webinar with noted EHR specialist, Lisette Wright. Sign up here. If you haven’t yet seen the description of our February 25th webinar with Ms. Wright, or registered to be informed of our webinars every month, read details here. FREE recording will be made available for 48 hours afterwards.

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