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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on August 19th, 2015

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6 Questions About Behavioral Health EHR You Should Be Asking

Electronic Health Records

Behavioral Health EHRNow that your behavioral health practice is starting to really take off and you are seeing more patients than ever before, you and your staff need to manage your organization’s growing pains. One of the first things medical organizations tend to do when their patient volume substantially increases is to check on software solutions. This is where behavioral health electronic health record software comes in.

Instead of trying to make do with a generic EHR application (or a paper-based system), successful practice owners will want to use specialized behavioral health software. Here are six questions that you should be asking about behavioral health EHR solutions.

1. Does it Include Speech and Handwriting Recognition?

Your doctors and nurses are already busy enough processing patients. They shouldn’t have to waste any more time when it comes to getting information into a patient’s electronic health record. 

This is why you should go with a vendor that includes speech recognition capability, letting your staffers simply speak and then see their words accurately transcribed on the screen. Handwriting recognition would be good as well, if you have older records that need to be entered into the system.

2. What Common Behavioral Health Issues Appear as Options for Patient History?

When entering a patient’s medical history, there are a number of behavioral health topics that you will find more convenient to add when they already exist as options in the software. 

This means that you can quickly note details about a patient’s support systems, or if there is any history of physical or mental abuse, for example. Details on a patient’s self-reported numbers for the Sadness Scale or whether there is a risk of suicide or violent outbursts directed toward others will also be easier to note.

3. Does it Come with DSM Code Capability?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is something you and your staff likely refer to on a daily basis. You should select a behavioral health EHR that includes DSM code information.

4. What About E-prescriptions?

Verify that the behavioral health EHR you are considering adopting will include a feature to let your physicians and nurse practitioners create electronic prescriptions. In particular, the software should enable you to prescribe controlled substances, since so many mental health patients wind up requiring these kinds of medications.

5. Is it Ready for ICD-10?

If your software provider hasn’t already mounted a concerted effort to bring ICD-10 capability into its application, you should look elsewhere for your behavioral health EHR. Since we must transition from ICD-9 to version 10 of the International Classification of Diseases code by this October 1, it’s imperative that your EHR will be ready for the change by then.

6. Are Treatment Plans Built In?

To make things easier for the staff and to ensure that you have a variety of options for treating patients, your behavioral health EHR should include them, along with details on potential problems, objectives and goals for different strategies of intervention.

When you determine that setting up a behavioral health EHR is the key to your practice’s ongoing success, all you have to do is find a reputable software provider with a proven track record of success in the field. Then, you can get back to the business of diagnosing and caring for your patients, devoting more time and attention to them than ever before.

Key Takeaway

  • It’s best to select the most appropriate tool for your business. You should use a behavioral electronic health record application instead of a general EHR to help you manage patients.
  • Speech and handwriting recognition in your behavioral health EHR will make it easier for your doctors and nurses to enter in patient details.
  • Make sure the software provider includes DSM code capability.
  • The software will ideally let your doctors generate electronic prescriptions for patients who require controlled substances to get better.
  • Check that the behavioral health EHR will be ready for the ICD-10 transition, slated for October 1, 2015.


About Stephen O'Connor

Stephen O'Connor is the Director of Brand and Digital Marketing, responsible for many aspects of Advanced Data Systems Corporation’s (ADS) marketing, including product marketing, customer acquisition, demand generation, brand, brand design, and content marketing.

Stephen has more than 20 years of healthcare industry experience. Prior to ADS, Stephen spent 11 years at Medical Resources Inc. (MRI), most recently as the Manager of Marketing & Internet Services, where he and his teams were responsible for all marketing efforts and the market positioning of MRI’s services.

Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional.