Psychiatrists provide particularly personalized care to their patients, but that can be hindered by the wrong EHR software. Some EHRs demand too much attention during and after appointments, sending providers through a labyrinth of clicks just to accomplish simple tasks when they should be focusing on the patient in front of them.
If your psychiatry practice is reassessing your current electronic health record or paper record keeping system, or if you are starting a new clinic, it’s important to consider EHR features that would streamline your clinical workflows. With the right software, that deluge of redundant clicks will be reduced to a steady stream of swift, meaningful actions, leaving you free to focus on your psychiatric care. This article will show you the most important software features for your psychiatry practice’s EHR, practice management, medical billing and more.
EHR Features for Psychiatry
One key factor that determines how effectively your EHR facilitates more personal connections is mobility. When you can quickly and discreetly handle your clinical notation on an iPad or iPhone, you can spend more time looking your patients in the eye and listening carefully to what they have to say.
Try to find an EHR platform that works well on your phone, tablet or computer for maximal flexibility in your workflows, and if that software is cloud-based, you will be able to access your EHR from anywhere.
Pre-Built Templates & Customizable Medical Forms
Every psychiatrist has their own preferred workflows when it comes to clinical note taking, so it is important to be able to customize templates or build them from scratch in your EHR. This is the best way to guarantee you are gathering all of the information you need from each appointment.
If your practice does not have specific needs in your psychiatry notes, make sure your electronic health record vendor at least has pre-built behavioral health forms such as PHQ-9 questionnaires, bio-psycho-social assessments forms, MSE findings forms and GAFs associated with your subspecialty. These will save you the trouble of creating your own templates in the EMR, and you can still iterate on these templates if you so choose.
Typing can be more time-consuming than is conducive with your appointment slots, and pausing to take notes can interrupt the flow of patient interactions. However, an EMR with an intelligent medical-speech-to-text tool can cut out a good portion of the typing from your day.
Some dictation features are not as effective as others, though, so make sure that the EHR company you are considering has built the tool to learn your accent and speech patterns as you dictate more notes. Then you can simply place your iPad in your lap and have a conversation with your patient.
Because psychiatrists often work with patients for prolonged periods of treatment, persistent templates are a must-have feature. If you see a patient for depression, their condition is unlikely to dramatically change on a session to session basis.
With persistent templates, you can enter their information into the first clinical note and see that populate into future sessions, so that you do not have to input the same health information every single appointment.
Psychiatrists need to be able to seamlessly prescribe medication for their patients, and with many practices remaining remote, e-prescribe is likely the most efficient way to do this. Providers should be able to send prescriptions or refill them directly within their EHR, and for further efficiency, preferred prescriptions and pharmacies ought to be saved in the platform.
Whether you are prescribing antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, sedatives, mood stimulants, or more, you should be able to rely on your eRx software in your EHR. That platform must also be EPCS compliant, so that you can prescribe Schedule II-V Drugs while enjoying the best industry standards in security and fraud protection.
Best Practice Management Features
HIPAA Compliant Patient Portal
The patient portal can be a powerful tool in your medical practice management software if you take advantage of all it has to offer. A HIPAA compliant patient portal can be the central hub for managing appointments, messaging patients, securely sharing health information, process payments and more.
Because the EHR patient portal is so important to patients accessing health information, it should require minimal onboarding and prioritize ease-of-use. Look for patient portals that are mobile friendly and cloud-based.
Online Appointment Scheduling
Enabling your patients to schedule appointments online will save you or your front desk staff time that would otherwise be spent on the phones with patients, navigating calendars. Instead, your patients can log into their patient portal, access an appointment calendar and select the time that works best for them.
Sometimes, EHR systems will allow you to send automated reminders to patients before appointments, and those reminders can have a positive impact on a psychiatry practice’s no-show rate. If you are regularly working with patients that struggle to stay on top of their schedules or perhaps have anxiety about speaking on the phone, online appointment scheduling will be appreciated.
Customizable Online Intake Forms
Intake for psychiatry is often more extensive than other specialties, so you want to make sure your patients share all of the information you need. Customizable intake forms let psychiatrists build out those forms according to their own specifications. Once the forms are ready to be used, it would be ideal if patients could access them online before their appointments.
Instead of sitting in your office and filling out paperwork, they can show up to the appointment with the intake forms submitted and processed in your EHR. Their information could then populate into their notes which would help providers avoid double entry of that data.
Secure, Open FHIR API
Perhaps your psychiatry practice has some unique needs that are not going to be met perfectly by any EMR system, so seek out vendors with open APIs that allow you to build out features or utilize a third party partner application. An extensive partner marketplace can connect you with exactly the right feature or service for your office. Whether you have specific appointment scheduling needs, or you want assistance with responding to online reviews, that API could be your ticket to a more well-rounded EHR experience.
Must-Have Medical Billing Features
One feature to search for in a medical billing software for psychiatrists is billing profiles. With billing profiles, you can bundle codes for frequently diagnosed conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression, and they will then populate into your patient’s chart as needed.
It is also crucial that your electronic health record and medical billing software are compatible with DSM-5 coding to maximize payments to your practice. This way you will be able to easily input the right codes for your psychiatric treatments from the library of codes in the platform.
Real-Time Insurance Eligibility Checks
About 56% of psychiatrists accept commercial insurance, and if your practice is in that group, you need a software that checks patient insurance eligibility. This feature will allow your staff to spend less time on the phone manually determining eligibility, and it also ensures that your patients receive the most assistance from their insurance companies.
Having a clear picture of the state of your revenue process will make it easier to catch problems quickly. Many psychiatry practices are cash and insurance based, so reporting tools are especially useful for their revenue processes.
In order to stay on top of billing, psychiatrists should search for software vendors with bulk claims, live claims feeds and a robust reporting dashboard that will demonstrate the success of your revenue cycle management. By utilizing those dashboards, you will be able to identify billing and coding problems faster, so that you can make adjustments to correct the issues.
Revenue Cycle Management for Psychiatry
Psychiatry medical billing and coding is uniquely complicated as a specialty, so if your practice is able to outsource medical billing to a team of billing experts, it could be worthwhile. Revenue cycle management professionals can take on your billing work and demonstrably improve upon the processes you have in place.
When searching for an RCM service, prioritize companies with a record of boosting clean claims rates up to at least 94%, resolving denials quickly, and optimizing payments. This service also needs to be highly transparent with you throughout the billing process. If you want some insight into a certain aspect of your revenue, your RCM team needs to be able to explain that clearly.
Look for an RCM team that has the proper CPC credentialing to handle your coding workload because expert coding from credentialed medical coders can have a dramatic impact on your revenue. Due to the unique nature of psychiatry billing, these billers and coders should have specific expertise in this specialty.
Telehealth Features for Psychiatry Practices
HIPAA Compliance and Security
Video visits have their own specific requirements for HIPAA compliance, so you need a telehealth software that was built with those in mind. Telehealth is an excellent tool for psychiatrists and other mental healthcare professionals, and since many clinics have remained fully remote, there is no space to wonder if your telemedicine software is making ongoing HIPAA compliance a priority.
Cloud Based Telehealth Software
A major benefit of telehealth is that appointments can happen anywhere, at any time if you have the right software. Cloud based telehealth software allows you and your patients to meet conveniently on smart phones, tablets or computers. However, not every patient will have experience with this kind of software, so it is important that the learning curve is very low.
Your telehealth appointments should not require any additional downloads for patients. Instead, they should be able to access their appointment via a web-link that you can send from your EHR. This will make it more convenient for your patients to receive care without any extra steps.
Full Integration with your EHR & Quick Charting During Appointments
Integrating your telehealth and EHR software creates a seamless healthcare ecosystem that makes video visits easier for everyone involved. Providers can manage every step of the process all within their EHR instead of having to navigate through multiple applications.
During the video visits, you should be able to access your patient’s chart on your tablet without having to exit out of the call. This quick charting feature utilizes picture-in-picture to minimize the video call on the screen while you edit or examine the patient’s chart. Throughout this time, your patient will still be able to see your face on screen, and you will see theirs.
Moreover, once the appointment is finished, you can seamlessly transition to any necessary after-appointment process such as e-prescribing in your EHR. It is also worth noting that an integrated telehealth solution will free up your practice from having to pay for a third party application.
Finding the right EHR, practice management and medical billing solutions for your psychiatry practice can be difficult, but if you keep these features in mind during your search, you should end up with a platform that does what you need without getting in the way.