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7 must-have EHR features to effectively manage your Psychiatry Practice

These days mental disorders are common worldwide. But the quality of care for these disorders has not increased to the same extent as that for physical conditions. The mental health field is far behind other specialties with regard to the implementation of technologies, especially health information technology to capture relevant health information that could support the diagnosis of mental and behavioral health. Mental health providers often use separate electronic medical record systems compared to general medical provider counterparts or do not have access to these systems at all. This creates big challenges for mental health professionals as a whole in providing quality care for patients who often require coordinated services across different sectors.

Instead of the psychiatrist making an anxiety index on paper and manually calculating scores, the EHR technology can allow him to enter it directly into the system. From there, the software will automatically configure graphs showing various contributing factors that can help calculate the anxiety index score. This eliminates clinical errors, as well as provides detailed information. During the consultation, the provider will be able to see historic graphs that can help him objectively evaluate the patient’s progress.

How Psychiatry EHR differs from the Primary Care EHR?

Behavioral health and primary care differ in their medical language, classifications, codes, data reporting requirements and regulations. But the primary differences between every practice’s EHR requirements rest in the type of data they use. Behavioral and mental health practices collect more intensive data gathered from screening tools and from ongoing treatment. Further, these practices largely rely on effective care coordination across clinical settings and patient engagement to achieve desired clinical outcomes. They are also subject to more data privacy regulations that go above and beyond HIPAA’s requirements.

Based on these diverse needs, one can point 7 must-have features, and functionalities mental health practices should consider when selecting an EHR. Behavioral and mental health practices should look for EHR systems aligned with these unique features. When selecting an EHR, the following seven EHR features should be viewed as essential to providing quality care.

An ideal mental health solution includes features to help manage:

1. Treatment Plan

The Treatment Plan functionality needs to be highly configurable to meet the varying work requirements of mental health professionals. The unique Treatment Plan functionality allows a doctor to

  • Set a timeline on the treatment goals and objectives for patients
  • Set the completion date of achieving the goal/objective
  • Determine various psychiatric modalities used to achieve the goal/objective.

iPatientCare Psychiatry EHR is preloaded with over 100 different associated problems linked with short/long term goals, objectives and intervention strategies.

2. Drug Abuse

Most psychiatric patients have a tendency of being addictive. Drug Abuse form helps psychiatrists understand the patient’s dependency level on the addictives such as addictive to what type of drug, age when started using it, consumption of the drug, present consumption, etc. An Integrated EHR for psychiatric specialty auto-populates the forms with client demographic information, diagnosis codes, medications, etc. to reduce redundant data entry.

iPatientCare Psychiatric EHR provides customizable charts, forms, reports and templates to work how you want them to work.

3. Specialty Scales like PHQ-9 or Depression Questionnaire

PHQ-9, the 9-item depression screening functionality/ Depression Questionnaire is used to capture the patient’s data. The criteria set in the Questionnaire calculates the PHQ-9 score. When the score is a 10 or above, it is added as an abnormal lab value in the EHR, which then alerts the provider to the patient’s potential risk. A mental health-specific EHR provides the facility to compare patient data on both baseline and severity of illness. Providers can assess the patient’s depression level by simply giving the scores based on the patient’s answers.

iPatientCare Psychiatric EHR allows you to utilize multiple evidence-based treatment tools including PHQ-9 and Depression Questionnaire, Beck’s Anxiety Scale, Beck’s Depression Inventory etc. These tools can also assist providers in planning, monitoring and adjusting treatment options (e.g., change in medication, multi‐component treatment collaboration).

4. Beck Depression Inventory

The Beck Depression Inventory are the most widely used psychological questionnaires for depression and are considered the central tool for measuring depressive symptoms dimensionally. A ready to use assessment form describing 21 anxiety symptoms allows the providers to assess the depression level of the patients. This multiple-choice self-report inventory enables healthcare professionals to rate the severity of the patient’s symptoms in the past week.

Maximizing EHRs under Value-based Care

5. AIMS Form

AIMS is a 12-item instrument assessing abnormal involuntary movements associated with antipsychotic drugs, such as tardive dystonia and chronic akathisia, as well as ’spontaneous’ motor disturbance related to the illness itself. It is useful for patients with severe psychiatric illness who may be experiencing dyskinetic movement, usually as an outcome of antipsychotic treatment. It provides the functionality to assess the establishment, presence and severity of involuntary movements. AIMS Forms also enables quick – easy accommodation within outpatient clinic appointments.

With iPatientCare Psychiatric EHR, AIMS can be readily administered in a few minutes. It aids the mental health professionals in the early detection of tardive dyskinesia as well as provides a method for on-going surveillance.

6. Mental/ Mini-Mental Status Exam

Psychiatrists need to document the mental status of the patient’s condition over time before and during the treatment. Pre-loaded and simple form integrated with EHR enables the psychiatrists to easily document the same. A most commonly used mini-mental state examination (MMSE) or Folstein test is available in iPatientCare to screen for

    • cognitive impairment
    • a course of cognitive changes in an individual over time
    • dementia screening

Thus making it an effective way to document an individual’s response to treatment.

7. DSM-IV Diagnosis codes

DSM-IV diagnostic code is to facilitate analysis of psychiatric practice patterns and quality of care on a five-part ‘axis’ system. When working with patients, these diagnosis codes helps to better understand their illness and potential treatment and to help 3rd party payers (e.g., insurance) understand the needs of the patient.

Related Article: Key challenges faced in Behavioral and Mental Healthcare

iPatientCare Psychiatric EHR provides a library of all DSM-V categories and codes in an easy-to-search format. It allows the psychiatrists to easily find diagnostic criteria to help create a treatment plan and create goals and interventions appropriate for the diagnosis. It also facilitates DSM-IV codes cross-reference with the appropriate ICD-10 code to help both clinicians and administrative staff.

Why have a Specialty-specific Psychiatric EHR?

Health care systems are increasingly implementing screening for depression as part of behavioral health integration (BHI) in primary care providing patients with better access to needed care for mental health in specialty settings. An EHR software designed to assist a mental health provider with patient diagnoses and care with AI virtual technology can lend support to mental health professionals in providing the care patients need. Technologies like this can help us, as a society and as an individual, address and fight mental illness on a larger scale.

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