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We all make mistakes, but not all mistakes are equal. Some will end up costing your practice time, profitability, and even patients.

Here are the top five EHR mistakes behavioral health practices make and how to avoid them.


1. Not Investing in an Electronic Health Record (EHR) System

This is critical. If you are reading this and breaking into a sweat because you are still managing your practice on paper, it’s time to dump the paper and go digital. Technology has come a long way; a powerful EHR can handle most of your administrative workload. EHRs are easy to implement and a cost-efficient way to save your practice time, while increasing productivity. Most EHRs come with integrated billing, scheduling, prescribing, telehealth, credit card processing, and reporting capabilities, although how each software vendor delivers the functionality varies. If you haven’t invested in an EHR system yet, here are a few articles to get you started:

2. Using a “One-Size-Fits-All” EHR System or One Designed for Primary Care

There are a ton of EHRs on the market. Most of them will tell you their system is the best for your business. Some may even create a marketing façade that they are tailor-made for a single specialty. But what they don’t tell you is what happens when your EHR isn’t a good fit. Crucial functions, such as using clinical measures, tracking results, reporting, and even basic business administration can be difficult or impossible when applied in a specialty as nuanced as behavioral health.

Most EHRs are not built for behavioral health; they are designed for physical healthcare. In fact, only 5-7% of the users for an average physical health or primary care EHR are behavioral health professionals. Those EHRs are focused on advancing features and functionality first and foremost for the majority of their users, and the needs of behavioral healthcare users are not prioritized.

On the other hand, using an EHR platform that is truly purpose-built for behavioral health gives you access to clinical workflows that fit your practice. Some can even automate the administration of outcome measures and screening questions, and summarize the results into a clinical narrative. Learn how to choose the right mental health EHR and calculate the total cost of ownership of an EHR system.

3. Letting Admin Work Get in the Way of Patient Care

As a practice grows, so do the challenges. The increase in critical support tasks, such as scheduling, billing, intakes, screenings, and audit preparation can create strain. That means clinicians and staff spend more time chasing down records, doing after-hours documentation, scheduling follow-ups, etc.

Clinical productivity is essential to providing an excellent experience for your patients. By automating and streamlining admin activities, a practice can put all its focus and effort into what’s most important – the patient outcome. Automating tasks, like capturing patient data, eliminates rewriting, errors, and increases efficiency exponentially. Learn how to manage a growing mental health practice and find out how efficient your practice really is.

4. Not Providing Measurement-Based Care

Measurement-Based Care is rapidly becoming the standard as payers request more data and better patient outcomes to bring down costs in behavioral and physical health. A measurement-based care practice uses outcome measures, typically symptom rating scales, delivered systematically to measure any baseline conditions, and then the impact of a service or intervention on a patient’s mental health status. Measurement-based care is effective at improving patient outcomes and important to every level of the practice. Research such as Fortney, 2016 offers additional insight into the benefits of using outcome measures. Learn more about measurement-based care and how to implement outcome measurement.

5. Leaving Money on the Table

No one wants to leave money on the table. You are providing exceptional service. You should be paid for it! One of the easiest ways to avoid this is utilizing the right CPT codes. For example, 96127 is a standalone CPT code approved by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is being reimbursed by several major insurance carriers. This code is used to report brief behavioral or emotional assessments for reimbursement and can be billed multiple times for each patient per visit. Using this billing code can generate anywhere from 5%-20% over your standard payment. Every plan is different, so it is important to check your fee schedules with your network representative to see what is covered, as well as the guidelines and limits. If your payer refuses to pay this CPT code, we offer advice on ways to better negotiate with payers.

As they say, everyone makes mistakes – but it’s always better to avoid them when you can.

Learn more about how Valant can help you steer clear of costly EHR errors and empower your practice.