As Halloween approaches, many behavioral health providers have already seen enough scary things dealing with practice management. Running a practice in the fast-paced world of private practice mental health is no easy task, with frights and dangers jumping out everywhere. But the good news is that technology and solid processes can help to address these behavioral health horror stories, and hopefully stop your hair from standing on end.
What are some of these frights and dangers? Gather around the campfire and have a listen to 7 of the most common horror stories in behavioral health private practice management.
1. Running Your Behavioral Health Practice on Paper
A paper-based behavioral health practice presents a terrifying scenario, even as it remains all too common. In addition to taking up office space and being vulnerable to loss, damage or destruction, paper-based records are inefficient and place a huge administrative workload on any office.
Investing in an electronic health records (EHR) system is a cost-effective way to increase your practice’s productivity and efficiency. Most EHR systems come with additional functions, such as scheduling, billing and telehealth. Your EHR system should help you transition to a paperless office. You can read more on how to escape the terrors of paper here.
2. Improper Billing
Incorrect coding and billing can fill practices with dread by negatively impacting a practice’s reimbursement and bottom line. There are numerous potential pitfalls here, such as billing for evaluation and management (E/M) services, mental telehealth billing, and Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) code changes, all of which present their own complexities. Practices can get help navigating these pitfalls with an EHR system that effectively handles behavioral health billing.
3. Failing to Negotiate Rates with Payors
Of all the things that go bump in the night, low reimbursement rates will truly get a practitioner’s teeth chattering. Many providers have not negotiated favorable rates with payors, leaving them stuck with these low rates.
Clinicians can take several steps toward negotiating higher rates. In addition to building relationships with the insurance providers, they can point to specific ways they add value and are entitled to higher rates. If they have an EHR system capable of issuing reporting on key metrics, such as typical time-to-appointment and patient outcomes, they can also present this data as more points of negotiation.
4. Missing Out on the Benefits of Measurement-Based Care
Yet another chilling event for a mental health practice is missing out on the benefits of measurement-based care. Measurement-based care involves the systematic use of outcome measures in treatment, typically in the form of symptom rating scales. The use of outcome measures tends to increase patient engagement and achieve better patient outcomes faster, to the extent that measurement-based care is becoming the accepted standard of care. In addition, insurance carriers will pay more for measurement-based care, in terms of both paying specific CPT codes and negotiating higher rates. An EHR that is designed around outcome measures and can automate the process will help immensely.
5. Inadequate EHR System
Once a behavioral health practice has an EHR system is in place, they may think practice management troubles are over. But if the EHR cannot handle all the tasks needed, problems can rise in the shadows like a horde of zombies.
Chief among these difficulties for behavioral health practices is that most EHRs are designed for physical healthcare. This means they may not be equipped to handle outcome measures, reporting, documentation, or other clinical efficiency items that a behavioral health provider needs. Accordingly, choosing the right mental health EHR is a critical step.
6. Not Maximizing Telehealth Options
Practices that fail to make the most of telehealth will face some serious frights. The use of telehealth in behavioral healthcare has expanded dramatically in the last several years, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased demand for remote care. Clinicians need to implement the necessary technology for a great telehealth experience, including telehealth software. In addition, providers need to understand the ins and outs of mental telehealth billing so they can maximize their efficiency and reimbursements.
7. Not Managing Your Practice’s Digital Presence
A poor digital presence can rain a litany of horrors down on the head of a behavioral health provider. Any place where a practice can be found online should be properly managed. This includes the practice’s website and any social media accounts, but also extends to online listings by any insurance provider networks. In addition, keep an eye on online ratings and reviews, taking care to respond thoughtfully to any negative reviews and dispute inaccurate reviews when necessary.
Finding an EHR Solution
One common thread of these behavioral health horror stories is that the right technology can help solve the underlying problem. Moving toward a paperless office by implementing an EHR system can help with your billing, as well as provide the efficiency and supporting data necessary to negotiate rates with payors. The right EHR can also help a clinician utilize measurement-based care, as well as other functions such as tracking and reporting. A strong telehealth platform is critical for remote care. And your practice can gain the capacity to manage its digital presence when the business as a whole is more efficient.
As an EHR designed specifically for behavioral health practices, Valant’s software can help banish these horrors into the night. Our EHR platform streamlines billing and reporting, and facilitates measurement-based care with a large library of automated mental health outcome measures. Valant also offers a secure, HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform.
Schedule a demo today to see how Valant can create happy endings to your behavioral health horror stories.