Posted By Arnav Mathur On July 19, 2021

EHR Implementation for Behavioral Health Challenges

ehr for behavioral health

EHR implementation for Behavioral Health has seen many challenges. In 2019, North Carolina attempted to change Medicaid to a system run by healthcare companies and lawmakers were pushing to make health records electronic. However, some providers were not exactly on board. Health records within large hospitals and clinics have been electronic, but some smaller mental health clinics were not prepared for that transition. Because of this, lawmakers were urged to pass a bill that would not require behavioral health providers to have electronic health records until late 2021. 

One of the reasons that EHR’s were being pushed into the systems of health care providers was because there were large amounts of money at stake (hundreds of millions of dollars!). However, a study found that approximately 35% of small behavioral health clinics in 2019 did not yet have the technology to implement an EHR. So even if money was at stake, it would have hurt those small behavioral health clinics. 

One challenge of EHR implementation for Behavioral Health for smaller organizations is finding the right solution to use across behavioral health clinics. If the system that was initially selected was a poor fit, it can be difficult, especially for the staff, to begin the process of evaluation and implementation all over again. 

It is never a good idea to force a new EHR into your workflow when your staff is used to something else; people can be very resistant to change. It is a good idea to talk to them first, get their input, and integrate the new system slowly into practice. This will avoid unnecessary frustration and stress for your team. Train your staff, integrate the new system slowly into their work, and conduct analysis of your current workflow to find areas where you can improve efficiency. 

Additionally, if the new EHR is much more complex than the previous software, this can present challenges. If it is not a behavioral health-specific solution, it can make keeping records much tougher for these clinics than expected. 

When shopping for EHRs for Behavioral Health, consider vendors with good support, training and best practices for integration. Also make sure that your vendor designs the EHR with Behavioral Health in mind including tools specific to your needs. EHRs for Behavioral Health can be a great tool despite the challenges in adopting new technology. Finding a reputable vendor with experience in your market and experience with EHR implementation for Behavioral Health can make the transition easier. 

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About Arnav Mathur

Arnav Mathur is a Marketing Associate at Patagonia Health. He conducts market research regarding electronic health records and reaches out to clinics across the United States to see what Patagonia Health can provide for them. He also writes content for public and behavioral health while combining his business skill sets and customer focus to help push healthcare IT forward.