When the EMR software market first emerged, behavioral and mental health professionals had very few available choices designed to suit their specific needs. Many ended up settling for more general medical EMRs that, despite including custom templates designed for their specialty, weren’t entirely suited to their needs. In recent years it’s safe to say the tide has turned. As specialty clinics began to gain popularity, the need for mental and behavioral health software systems became evident.
Specialty healthcare providers — including mental health and behavioral health EMR providers — have begun to demand EMRs designed specifically for their needs. In some cases, this involves medical EMRs with robust, well-constructed modules focused on their specialty. However, most of the time, modern behavioral health providers are opting for specialty-specific systems. With a higher focus on behavioral and mental health than in the past, the EMR industry has jumped at the chance to meet this need. As a result, there is a wide range of mental and behavioral health EHR software systems available today.
Implementing Mental and Behavioral Health EHR/EMR Software: Where to Start
Searching for behavioral and mental health EMRs can be broken down into two main steps:
Assess your needs: The better you understand your EMR requirements, the more likely it is that your purchase will pay off, both clinically and financially.
Evaluate potential EMR vendors using your unique list of requirements.
Determining what your clinicians need is crucial when defining your EMR requirements. If your clinicians (aka the users) don’t feel comfortable with the system, it’s not likely to offer much of a benefit to your organization. Not only should you ask your practitioners what they like and dislike about their current EMR (if you’re replacing a system), you should also discuss what they would like to see out of a new EMR and why.
Sadly, many organizations don’t listen to their frontline clinicians, so they end up buying EMRs that they can’t understand or simply don’t want to use. Don’t make this mistake.
When on the hunt for behavioral and mental health EMR software solutions, keep in mind your healthcare facility’s unique wants and needs as well as what issues you are currently facing. While both cloud-based and on-premise healthcare technology solutions have their advantages, certain clinics will benefit more from one or the other. For example, specialty clinics like behavioral and mental health facilities would benefit more from a cloud-based solution, whereas a hospital with a number of different departments would not. In addition, on-premise solutions require your own IT team to deal with updates as well as issues.
Sometimes, a lesser-known system will serve a behavioral or mental health practice’s needs as well as those developed by vendors with a larger marketing budget. Be aware: some vendors will tack on additional fees when adding applications or features.
At first glance, it may be difficult to differentiate one specialty EMR system from the next, much less rank them. But, if you compare the differences between vendors and carefully adhere to your requirements, you can find an EMR that makes it easier to share patient records, improves your billing process and makes health records easily accessible on any mobile device.
Finding the Right Solution for You
To make the process a little easier, we narrowed it down to our top five behavioral and mental health EMR solutions. Throughout this article, we will discuss each of the top five software vendors and their key tasks — we’ve included their unique features as well as company-size suitability, deployment method(s), cost and more.
With behavioral and mental health treatment primarily taking place in clinics and outpatient facilities, cloud-based options are more often than not the proper solution. For the sake of this article, our top five behavioral and mental health EMR solutions are all cloud-based options.
CureMD EHR is made for agencies of all sizes offering patient care in behavioral health, substance abuse, medication management, diagnostic assessments and targeted case management. This behavioral health software solution offers clinical documentation, eprescribing, electronic labs, workflow automation and even speech recognition capabilities.
When it comes to eprescribing, CureMD has a complete database of medications, connecting to over 40,000 pharmacies through Surescripts to process orders, refills and mail orders. There are many advantages that come with epriscribing; two of the biggest include reduced costs and fewer medication errors.
With Cure MD’s enterprise scheduling tool, appointments across multiple locations can be managed online. Color-coded scheduling is used to assign specialty equipment to the proper clinician, exam room and time period. In addition to setting appointments and sending alerts/notifications, a patient’s insurance can also be verified using enterprise scheduling.
CureMD’s clinical documentation integrates the behavioral and mental health EHR with the practice management software and patient portal feature to store patient data and provide analytics. It’s then able to aggregate clinical outcomes and reports based on patient history and trends.
AdvancedMD specializes in small- and medium-sized independent practices, handling tasks including, but not limited to, scheduling, patient rooming, customizable templates, telemedicine, eprescribing and patient messaging. The specialties AdvancedMD EHR caters to include mental health, dermatology, physical therapy and more.
Like many EMR/EHR software providers, AdvancedMD’s eprescribing tool allows users to review and sign prescription requests electronically regardless of their location. With the patient portal, patients can schedule appointments, send and receive messages, pay bills and more. Its telemedicine feature lets you treat more patients without the added stress and time. With telemedicine, your clinicians and patients can have a face-to-face conference call and securely transmit still images or high-resolution video conference screenshots and have them saved to a patient’s file.
AdvancedMD’s behavioral and mental health software offers disorder-specific templates and can access patient notes from the EHR. This gives the psychiatrist or psychologist the ability to assess and diagnose a patient as well as develop treatment plans and monitor the severity of the disorder.
What makes AdvancedMD one of the best medical software solutions is its wide range of functionality. In addition to EHR, AdvancedMD also provides practice management, patient experience, revenue cycle management and financial reporting capabilities. It also contains mental health billing software tools to help manage niche aspects of the process, such as ICD-10 diagnostic codes.
AdvancedMD also handles the entire billing process — appointment scheduling, insurance verification, payment and more can all be handled automatically. Its claims center can automatically scrub claims and eliminate any errors which would cause the acceptance of the claim to be prolonged. By spending less time on tedious paperwork, your staff is freed up to focus more on the patient and other important issues at hand.
Company Size Suitability: S M L
DrCloudEHR by EnSoftek is another cloud-based solution for behavioral health as well as primary care practices of all sizes. This software’s features handle appointment scheduling, eprescribing, support, revenue cycle management, document management and workflow management.
All patient history, documents and any other sensitive information used with DrCloudEHR are hosted and kept secure in Microsoft Azure data centers with off-site backup options. Like other cloud-based behavioral and mental health EHR software solutions, DrCloudEHR can be accessed online through laptops, smartphones, tablets and more.
DrCloudEHR handles eprescribing through DrFirstEHR; practitioners can prescribe medications and check a patient’s medication history as well as check for drug-to-drug and drug-to-allergy interactions based on a patient’s current medications and/or diagnosis.
With DrCloudEHR’s document management tool, users can create, populate and edit consent forms — patient and staff signatures can also be captured electronically. Once users attach documents, such as lab results, legal documents and hospital discharge notes, the software automatically scans them and places each in a virtual filing cabinet.
Company Size Suitability: S M L
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Used by mental health practices of all sizes, TherapyNotes is best suited as an EMR for behavioral health practitioners such as therapists, psychiatrists, social workers and other mental health professionals. Some features of TherapyNotes include scheduling and to-do notes, billing, claims management, documentation, patient portal, and technical support.
The TherapyNotes platform includes both EMR and practice management software. This system also provides the ability to track clinician schedules, patient appointments and billing within the scheduling software.
TherapyNotes’ practice management functions include one-click electronic claims submission, direct receipt of Electronic Remittance Advice from some insurance companies, credit/debit/HSA card processing and the ability to generate patient statements, superbills, CMS 1500 forms and financial reports.
Its EMR-based note-taking feature is built around forms designed for psychology, therapy, counseling, social work and psychiatry. This includes form-based note templates for treatment plans, progress notes and psychological evaluations. TherapyNotes’ to-do-list automatically adds tasks when there is a need to update treatment plans, submit electronic claims or follow up with patients.
One major bonus to choosing TherapyNotes lies in its customer service. Unlike many other software solutions, TherapyNotes comes with 24/7, unlimited technical support. Additionally, TherapyNotes starts from as low as $59/month, making it the cheapest of these five options.
Like most other solutions, Cerner Behavioral Health EHR focuses primarily on hospital clients. Cerner is equipped with tools and features to deal with behavioral health workflows, reporting and analytics, unified EHR, interoperability, patient esignature and patient portal. With road notes and other applications, Cerner is well-suited for today’s mobile healthcare providers.
Cerner’s approach to behavioral health is to meld patient data with that from other providers like hospitals and long-term post-acute care centers. This integrates behavioral health data with other providers to care for patients across the continuum of care in an effort to provide a more accurate diagnosis. As an added bonus, medical errors that can occur during times of transition can be avoided.
When providing mobile treatment, Cerner RoadNotes allows practitioners to electronically review medical records and document patient information all while in the patient’s home. That data then synchronizes with Cerner HomeWorks, its back-office scheduling solution and behavioral health billing software for mental health professionals
Using the patient portal, interaction between health organizations and their clients is made quick and easy. Patients can look up their medical information, receive updates and communicate in real time with their clinicians.
With Cerner, workflows and documentation are tailored specifically to behavioral health, but not all facilities will benefit. Keep in mind, Cerner Behavioral Health EHR is made for medium- to large-sized healthcare organizations.
Company Size Suitability: S M L
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Making Your Decision
With so many options out there, choosing the proper EMR for your behavioral and mental health treatment can be very intimidating. While we can’t tell you which specific solution will work best for your facility, we hope this list gives you an idea of what these systems are able to accomplish.
Ultimately — and we can’t stress this enough — you need to adhere to your unique EMR/EHR requirements list in order to guide your behavioral health EHR vendor choices. Preparation is key; if your organization knows what it needs to support its clinicians effectively, you’re far more likely to end up making the right choice among the many behavioral and mental health EMRs on the market. Every organization has different workflow patterns, different clinical styles and different administrative issues to address. If you thoroughly screen several of the top behavioral health companies against your specific requirements, your investment is likely to be a success.
No matter what size your behavioral health organization is, buying an EMR represents a big investment for virtually any organization. By identifying your key mental health EHR requirements — and issues that might otherwise have gone unnoticed — you have a much better chance of making your behavioral health EMR investment a success.
How has your healthcare organization benefited from the use of behavioral and mental health EMR? Can you think of some that we missed? Let us know in the comments.