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Why You Should Have an EHR and How to Choose

If you could travel back in time and have a conversation with Freud or Adler about the business of private practice and billing, they would think you are talking about a fictional technocratic society. The idea that nothing is done with pen and paper anymore would be a shocking revelation. Our use of technology in the field of mental health would be astounding. Indeed, this is the world that exists today. We live in a world run by technology. A world where it is almost impossible to live without the buzzing phones and the quickest internet. Without these things, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep up with competition, catch the eye of potential patients, or please the current ones. Therefore, in our current age, having an electronic health record software is critical to your survival and can make your life better.

Here are 5 Guidelines to look for when choosing an EHR:

1. HIPAA Compliance/Security

Many of the current headlines have featured cyber attacks against government authorities or businesses. Healthcare is a prime target for hackers or cyber-criminals. Because of this reality, it is the duty of the biller and the practitioner to maintain and use software that will protect your patient’s health information. When choosing an EHR, be sure to talk to a company representative about their HIPAA Compliance program and their security measures to protect against any kind of cyber attack. Hint: When discerning who has the better security program look at the staff. If the management is hiring experienced IT professionals, it is a good indicator that they are preparing for the security of health information.

2. User Experience

An EHR ought to be user-friendly. Many times, therapists get into an EHR and all they see is a database-type interface that is unreadable. Fortunately, there are EHRs that exist where even the least technologically savvy practitioner can navigate with ease. Because your cash-flow is often tied to the EHR used, the need for the software to be user-friendly is a must.

Along with being user friendly, the ability to customize the fields or the needed reports is also a wonderful thing. It’s important to shop around for the right software. Make a list of all the fields that you hope to have in a software and search for EHR options with those list items in mind. For example: marital status, number of sessions, employer, etc...

3. Features The basic features of an EHR should include:

  1. EDI (claim) submission

  2. ERA receiving

  3. Basic financial reporting

  4. Facesheets (patient demographic information)

  5. Treatment planning

  6. Note taking

Most EHRs will have many more features, but these are the basics. If your EHR is missing any of these, it is not worth your time.

4. Customer Service Typically, the larger a company becomes, the worse the customer service. This is not a universal truth, but customer service is an incredibly important facet of choosing an EHR. If their support department is not responsive or not knowledgeable, this is a good indication to run for the hills. You will want a knowledgeable, responsive, and helpful customer service department as you will most likely run into knowledge gaps with the software and need to call someone for help. The worst case scenario is choosing an EHR that has bad customer service that ends up costing you time, energy, and money.

5. Cost One of the biggest factors in using an EHR is the cost. Some EHRs have a flat-fee every month, some have a variable fee every month, and some have a one time purchase fee. There are several factors that go into cost, but generally you can spend between $20.00 a month or even $500.00 a month on an EHR. This is yet another reason why making that “must-haves” list for your software is so vital. You might be able to save yourself money by determining from the beginning that you don’t need the 25 special features offered by the $500/month software and land on a more reasonable price point.

What you want to spend depends on the size and needs of your practice. Most practices don’t want to expend the capital for the most expensive EHRs, but there are some cost-effective solutions out there for even group practices. You might even be able to save money by speaking with a sales representative. Because we are dealing with software, and not inventory, it is much easier to hand out discounts. Build some rapport with a sales rep and you never know what kind of discount you might be extended.

Feel free to give us a call at 734-437-9432 or message us on our website at to explore whether your EHR is worth what you are paying, or to talk to us about our recommendation. We would be happy to assist you in choosing an EHR or recommending you to someone who would know more.

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