What to Look for in an EMR for Psychiatry

Choosing the right EMR for your psychiatry practice is an important decision. A good EMR solution can make you more efficient and make your practice more enjoyable to run. But choosing an EMR that lacks the features you need can sap your energy and waste time. By identifying your must-have features, you’ll be able to more easily distinguish which EMR is the best option for you. In this post, we’ll guide you through what to look for in an EMR solution for your psychiatry practice. 

1. A Robust Client Portal

One of the most important aspects of a quality EMR software is its client-facing features. A user-friendly system encourages clients to take a more active role in their care, relieving some of the administrative burden from your front office staff.

Onboarding new clients generally requires a flurry of signatures and submissions on a number of intake forms and consents. A good EMR will allow clients to access, sign, and submit all required documentation online. Many EMRs come equipped with form templates for commonly used intake documents and the flexibility to customize them to fit the unique needs of your psychiatry practice.

Additionally, your EMR should allow clients to update their own insurance and personal information — this is more convenient for them and reduces the time required from your office staff.  Don’t forget that an EMR should always provide HIPAA-compliant communications. This includes being able to send and receive secure messages, share files, and send out forms for completion.  

2. Appointment Self-Scheduling 

Allowing clients to schedule their own appointments can relieve a significant administrative burden. Consider choosing a software that allows clients to view available dates and times and request an appointment based on availability. All appointment requests should be subject to administrative approval.

Client no-shows are a chronic problem for any psychiatry practice. Your EMR should offer the option to send clients appointment auto-reminders via phone, text, or email. This can significantly reduce the number of missed appointments.

3. Therapy Documentation

Completing required documentation is often a cumbersome process for clinical staff. Automation and the smart use of templates can trim down the resources needed to complete these tasks. Using pre-made templates for progress notes, initial assessments, treatment plans, and discharge summaries keeps you from having to reinvent the wheel. Well-designed templates make it quicker and easier to enter in a client’s data and allow you to focus solely on the substance rather than the format.

There may be some instances where you’ll want to customize a form to fit the unique needs of your practice. Look for an EMR with the flexibility to design and use your own forms and templates.

Being able to review, approve, and electronically sign or cosign client notes will deliver significant time savings for clinicians in supervisory roles. Look for an EMR that will send out automated alerts when notes are awaiting approval so you can easily stay up-to-date with administrative tasks that require your attention.

4. Insurance Billing Assistance and Client Billing

Collecting payment from insurers and clients can consume an enormous amount of time and resources when done manually. Look for an EMR with features that will reduce the chances of billing errors and automate the more time-consuming parts of the billing process. 

One of the most important of these features is the ability to reference current CPT codes and modifiers. Using an outdated or incorrect billing code can result in an insurance claim denial or rejection. 

You’ll also want your EMR to be able to automatically precheck your claims for possible errors before they’re submitted. Correcting a potential error before it’s sent to an insurer can head off a denial or rejection before it happens. Additionally, it’s useful to be able to submit multiple insurance claims together, especially if you’re a high-volume practice.

When an insurer doesn’t automatically approve a claim, tracking down why it was rejected or denied can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. Look for an EMR that has specialists on hand to troubleshoot billing claims, helping to sort out why they were rejected and assisting with corrections and resubmission. This feature can save a significant amount of time and noticeably improve your practice’s revenue stream. When an insurer or client submits a payment, your EMR should automatically credit the account so you maintain an accurate, real-time view of all your account balances.

Keeping clients’ credit cards stored in your EMR makes it much easier to auto-bill for sessions, keeping accounts current and insuring a more dependable cash flow. And being able to charge multiple credit cards at once will prevent you from having to repeat the same steps over and over again with each account. Make sure the EMR you choose has all these capabilities.

5. Telehealth Interface

The recent uptick in demand for telehealth has made this feature a must-have. Comfort level with technology will vary quite a bit from client to client, so your EMR’s front end should be user-friendly for even the most tech-averse user.

Ideally, a client should be able to access the telehealth interface by simply clicking on a link in the emailed session invite. If the EMR requires that software be downloaded and installed on a client’s device ahead of time, it creates an unnecessary barrier. 

Conducting group sessions often requires multiple people to be in a session at once. The EMR you choose should offer a telehealth interface that facilitates group and multi-user access. 

When you’re working with clients remotely, you can’t simply hand a client a resource or glance over the homework they’ve completed that week. A two-way screen sharing feature will allow you to interact in a way that’s similar to how you would during face-to-face sessions. 

6. E-Prescribing 

Being able to prescribe medications electronically has done wonders to reduce prescribing errors and improve client care. It can also significantly reduce the time spent fielding requests for refills.

Prescribing a controlled substance requires additional safeguards, so be sure your EMR has multi-factor authentication. Checking for possible drug-to-drug and drug-to-allergy interactions, dosing, and contraindication issues is essential to ensuring client safety. Your EMR should flag potential problems with a particular drug and client before the prescription is ever transmitted to the pharmacy. Additionally, access to a built-in prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) tool can cut down on the time you spend on mandatory monitoring obligations. It also makes it easier to spot potential prescription drug abuse early on.

Finally, being able to give a patient an estimated out-of-pocket expense for the medication you’re prescribing before they leave the office increases the likelihood they’ll fill the prescription. Having an EMR with this capability is a plus.

Wrapping Up

Choosing the right EMR for your psychiatry practice is an important decision. A well-designed EMR should come with a suite of features designed to improve the quality of care that your patients receive as well as the overall efficiency of your practice.  Identifying the features that matter most will ensure that you select an EMR that best meets your needs.

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