Finding a Trustworthy EHR Vendor

Tag Archives: Behavioral Health EHR

Finding a Trustworthy EHR Vendor

finding a trustworthy ehr vendor

Finding a trustworthy EHR vendor is important. The investment in a new system is significant and carries risks and consequences of failure. When your healthcare agency is shopping for a new EHR system, do your due diligence and vet your vendor as well. Do not exhaust your budget for a system that comes with hidden costs, fails to live up to expectations or is lacking support to go with the system you purchased.

Make sure any EHR vendors you are evaluating are providing a clear understanding of their pricing. Will they provide the total cost of ownership for their solution? Have you gotten deep into the process of consideration only to find they failed to mention additional fees like training? Be wary of hidden add-on costs after implementation also. If an EHR vendor has a lot of 3rd parties they work with instead of integrating their own tools they are likely to have additional costs. Stay within your budget and avoid being nickel and dimed. A trustworthy EHR vendor will outline all of their costs for you.

Other pitfalls to watch out for is vagueness on the part of EHR vendors about what their systems can do, having reputations for overpromising on development then failing to deliver, and lying about system functionality. A trustworthy EHR vendor will be clear on how their systems operate and will be happy to demo them for you. You will feel confident knowing what you are purchasing. A trustworthy vendor will also have a good track record of following through on development timelines and doing what they said they would. Be wary of EHR vendors whose customers have reviewed as selling a product that does not do what they said it would. 

Finally, in seeking out a trustworthy EHR vendor, make sure the vendor team is there for you beyond just the software itself. A great vendor will value relationships and collaboration and will form a true partnership with your healthcare organization. They will be responsive to your customer service and IT support needs, which will help your bottom line. They will also be responsive to your changing needs to meet compliance regulations, connect with different HIEs and immunization registries, and to adjust for improvements in your workflow. An EHR vendor you can trust is committed to your industry and operates as a living software that is constantly innovating for healthcare IT. Seek vendors that serve you while you serve the community.

Whether you are shopping for an EHR for the first time or limping along with one that nickel and dimes you, does not meet your needs, or fails to offer you proper support – remember you have options. Evaluate EHR Solutions and consider the importance of the people and company you are working with. Trustworthy EHR vendors will be transparent, have solid reputations and be committed to serving you.

Challenges of EHR Implementation on Behavioral Health

ehr for behavioral health

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 implementing an EHR 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 can make the transition easier. 

The Threat to Mental Health during COVID-19 & How Practitioners Can Help

The COVID-19 pandemic has been full of challenges both mentally and physically for most Americans. Many have lost jobs, got laid off, lived in isolation, and existed in fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus for months on end. On top of that, the current number of virus cases is sobering and can be overwhelming to contemplate. It is no wonder that many modern world health experts are declaring many nations including the USA to be in a mental health crisis. The toll of COVID-19 has had physical, emotional, and financial effects on American families. Experts have found that if not addressed properly, mental health can sustain more damage and lasting effects than the three latter combined. So, what is the common threat causing this compromise in mental health?

According to an article by the World Health Organization, the stress caused by uncertainty during COVID-19 has been, and is currently, the most common threat to the American mental health. No matter how direct or indirect the exposure, the stress of the virus has been found to take a practically even toll on Americans’ mental health across the board. Living in anxiety at the possibility of contracting the illness keeps the body producing the “fight or flight” hormone (otherwise known as cortisol) consistently. This stress can be triggered by multiple factors including self-isolation, economic uncertainty, lack of safety, and absence of social interaction to name a few. Dr. Petsantis of the World Health Organization claims his patients have also seen a higher propensity for psychosomatic behavior due to the pandemic. 

Mental health is a crucial component to overall wellness for the body, mind, and soul. While financial and physical wellness may be on the forefront of your priorities, remember to check up on how you and your loved ones are handling stress during this time period. 

Health practitioners are currently working to find solutions to the mental health stresses in the USA. However, practitioners have found the solutions to many stresses lie in the power of the individual. Health care workers are learning to equip people with the proper tools and advice to address their personal mental health dilemmas head on. After realizing the significance of mental health fallout in 2020, the CDC released a series of recommendations for keeping mental health in order.

Here are 3 things health practitioners recommend to do in order to ease stress during the pandemic.

  1. Take frequent breaks
  2. Take care of your body
  3. Take time to connect with others

Take frequent breaks. Although it feels necessary to keep up with the latest news and updates about the virus, it can be exhausting to constantly seek information about a situation that is beyond your control. Try to take breaks from the news and engage in an activity that you enjoy or one that gives you inner peace.

Take care of your body. In order to set your mind at ease, make sure you are doing everything in your power to care for your body and build defenses against stress and sickness. The CDC recommends regulating your breathing during restful breaks, eating well, exercising often, and getting deep sleep. These lifestyle habits will relieve your anxieties and help you and your household feel a bit more in control during your daily routine.

Take time to connect with others. It can be easy to feel completely alone and isolated during a worldwide pandemic. It is difficult to be away from those you love in the effort to maintain social distance. However, make sure to talk with your family and community frequently. If you aren’t comfortable meeting socially distanced in person, set aside times to meet virtually using platforms like Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom. 

What are some ways you are dealing with stress during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments below.

Public Health Workers, We’re Here for You.We know county local health department staff are on the front lines of finding answers about COVID-19. As an Electronic Health Record provider focused on public and behavioral health, we understand the importance of your work. Thank you, healthcare heroes! If there is any way that we can be a resource to you during this time, please reach out to us today.

Telehealth Best Practices: Enhancing “Webside” Manner

Best Practices for Telehealth Webside Manner

Staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase the use of telehealth among healthcare professionals. 75% of individuals in the U.S. who have behavioral health conditions are continuing therapy services during COVID-19. Additionally, virtual care has increased 1.6x since the summer of 2019.  And telehealth is here to stay. Convenience, access beyond clinical hours, and increased continuity of care are just a few of the key benefits in providing telehealth. With such an increase, we pulled together a list of best practices when conducting a telehealth appointment. Just as physicians focus on bedside manner during an in-person interaction, telehealth encounters have a proper “webside” manner.

Why is “Webside” Manner Important?

“Webside” manner is just as important as a regular bedside manner during client appointments. Webside manner is similar to bedside manner. It’s the way clinicians interact with patients during an appointment.

Studies show positive provider-patient relationships matter. When providers receive training in empathy, eye-contact, and other relationship-building strategies, health outcomes often improve. In other words, there are no negative side effects when you focus on maintaining a positive relationship with clients. Building a good rapport is crucial to providing meaningful care. So, how can you enhance your telehealth experience?

Best Practices for a Telehealth Encounter

Before the Appointment

If you are new to telehealth, we recommend practicing before your first client encounter. Even if you are experienced in telehealth, best practices are important reminders before each appointment. Here are a few items to consider:

  • Have the correct equipment – Having a reliable computer or laptop with video functionality will be best for telehealth. Devices often perform best when plugged into a power source. Consider investing in a headset and a USB camera if your current technology isn’t up to par.
  • Test your internet connection – Nothing can interfere with a patient encounter more than having poor communication. During a virtual appointment, internet connection can interfere with communication. Continually test your connectivity to ensure you provide the highest quality care. Placing the router close to your office helps improve wireless connections. If you can’t do that, consider getting a wireless range enhancer to boost your wifi signal. 
  • Physical space – When using video for telehealth, physical space determines whether a client can see you clearly. Proper lighting, for example, affects how well a client can see you. You may also consider a physical space that isn’t prone to unexpected sounds (from kids, pets, etc.). Additionally, make sure you are comfortable in the space before the appointment begins. Being intentional about your physical space decreases possible distractions.
  • Practice – Grab a colleague to practice with. Set the stage just as you will during your appointments. Ask for feedback on how your space looks, whether the connection seems to be working properly, etc. For instance, a colleague may be able to comment on what the patient experience is like when logging into the telehealth appointment. Practice provides further confidence in using telehealth, which may be a new concept to you or your client.  
  • Have a back-up plan – It is no secret that technology can provide unexpected roadblocks. Whether it be a client’s internet giving out or a device losing power, know your backup plan. A backup plan may look like calling your patient instead of using video. Luckily telehealth compliance and reimbursement are flexible when issues do occur (some rules have become more relaxed during COVID-19). Your agency may provide you with a specific backup plan when things do not go as expected. Know the recommended procedure so you are prepared when challenges arise. 

During the Appointment

It’s time for a telehealth appointment! After proper preparation, remember virtual communication best practices. Consider these tips:

  • Focus on the camera to mimic eye contact.
  • Be aware of body language.
  • Stay seated when possible.
  • Avoid distractions. This tip may seem obvious, but taping or fidgeting is often more distracting on video than in person.
  • Be clear. Clarity on a virtual platform is critically important. For instance, ask clients if they can hear you okay. Ask clients if they need any clarification or have questions during each encounter. Being clear may seem like a simple communication practice, but double-checking your clients’ understanding is better than assuming they heard everything.

Your Reliable Solution

With telehealth on the rise, you need a reliable solution to continue providing meaningful care to your clients. That’s why Patagonia Health has developed an integrated telehealth solution. Our telehealth app allows users to easily integrate video appointments into their workflow. The solution is both secure and very easy to use. Interested in learning more? Contact us today. 


Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. But mental health is more than a month. In order to stop the stigma, communication must continue around the importance of mental health all year. Specifically, during the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has become a national conversation. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported in late April over half of U.S. adults (56%) COVID-19 stress or worry has had a negative impact on their mental health. A recent PsychU Webinar noted the loneliness epidemic was already prevalent in our culture. COVID-19 is helping the world recognize this epidemic and increase resources available online to uplift people. Additionally, behavioral health professionals anticipate a reduced mental health stigma at the end of this pandemic. Mental health awareness is increasingly important in our world.

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May since 1949. It’s outreach has touched millions of people through media, local events, and screenings. Mental Health America releases a toolkit every March to support outreach activities during Mental Health Awareness Month. But why not use these tools to educate the public about mental illness all year long? Why not talk about the fact that 18.1% of Americans suffer from depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder? Why not continue talking about suicide to help reduce the stigma associated with it?

Mental Health Awareness Tools

To help you spread the word about mental health awareness, we have compiled several tools and resources for you.

Resources Specific to Mental Health Awareness During COVID-19:

How to #BeTheDifference For People With Mental Health Concerns During COVID-19 (Mental Health First Aid)

Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation (SAMHSA)

Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 (CDC)

Finding Local Mental Health Resources During the COVID-19 Crisis (American Psychological Association)

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health America’s 2020 Mental Health Awareness Toolkit

Facts to Share to Raise Mental Health Awareness

Infographics and More Social Media Messaging

Suicide Prevention Facts and Resources

Warning Signs and Risk of Suicide

Tips for Mental Wellness

Mental health is not prejudiced. It affects the world as a whole regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or social background. Psychology Today created a list of ways to encourage people to live in a manner promoting mental wellness. Here are some of their healthy mind tips you can share:

  • Get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
  • Avoid unhealthy foods, such as sugars, greasy foods, salts, processed foods, and saturated fats.
  • Consume more whole grains, greens, unprocessed foods, lean meats, and unsaturated fats.
  • Drink at least 3 liters of water per day.
  • Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Stay away from toxic thoughts, toxic people, and toxic conversations.
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation on a daily basis.
  • Learn how to manage your stress.
  • Stay present in your daily relationships.
  • Avoid “screen time” and engage in more “in-person time”.
  • Take time for yourself every day.

Spread the Word about Mental Health

Whether your outreach takes place on social media, your blog, your local paper or in your clinic, generating awareness about mental illness should be an ongoing effort. Help others recognize 20% of us will experience a severe mental health disorder at some point in our lifetime. That is one out of every five of us. You can help by keeping the conversation going. 

At Patagonia Health we are raising our voices to fight the stigma against mental illness. Help us by speaking up or sharing this post.

If you liked this blog, you might also like: 

Managing Anxiety Amid COVID-19

Inside Behavioral Health: 8 Signs of Mental Illness

Inside Behavioral Health: Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Inside Behavioral Health: The Science of Substance Use Disorder