Electronic health records (EHR) are a useful tool in the health field. EHRs improve health care practices and facilities’ overall efficiency and effectiveness. With EHRs staff have access to an electronic appointment system, billing system, clinical charting, order entry, patient history, general documentation, and reports. According to a Healthcare Innovation Survey, around 99% of all hospitals in the United States currently use an EHR system. So why are behavioral and mental health facilities not as eager to make the change to these electronic health records systems?
Mental and behavioral health facilities have a different language, classifications, codes, data reporting requirements, and regulations when comparing to primary care facilities. In addition, many mental and behavioral health facilities fear confidentiality, and privacy codes will be compromised. These facilities not only have to follow HIPPA laws, but they also have other strict privacy guidelines and regulations.
An EHR improves record security. All electronic documents created in these systems are filed and organized, preventing misplacement or the destruction of records. When a health provider shares confidential documents with another health provider, only the authorized can view these documents. The security prevents a paper trail and any unwanted viewers from getting a hold of patient records.
The ability to easily share documents electronically between providers also improves communications amongst professionals. Many people have a primary care physician and specialist they visit for treatment, such as a therapist. Health providers and therapists can work together and create a treatment plan for the overall health of their patients. Improvement in medication management is another benefit that comes when using an EHR system. Mental health providers can monitor the prescriptions their patients are on, have all their medical history, prevent prescription errors, and it eliminates the “double-doctoring” by patients.
EHR is accessible almost on any device and anywhere with internet or cell service. For the behavioral and mental health world, this is a significant benefit. When dealing with life-threatening emergencies, such as suicide threats, mental health providers can easily access patient records. Easy access improves crisis response services and saves many patients’ lives.
The last benefit that EHR systems provide is streamlined billing. Being able to bill for services electronically makes the billing process more efficient resulting in fewer errors and cost savings when compared to paper invoicing. Electronic billing saves the provider money and time.
EHR has proven to be a beneficial tool within the health world. All mental and behavioral facilities would benefit if they were to switch to an electronic health system. A lot of practices are already making the transition to an EHR system; others still are unsure and do not want to change due to the effort and cost. The increase in effectiveness and efficiency of a patient’s care EHR systems outweighs the concern with making the switch. Not only does it benefit the practice, but it also allows providers to give the ultimate care to patients that they deserve.
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