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EHRs are a critical tool for success in the behavioral health industry, particularly for large practices. These software solutions make it possible to manage the sheer volume of work that goes into running a practice. Unfortunately, finding the right EHR can be easier said than done, and it’s not uncommon for behavioral health practices to be dissatisfied with their software solutions. Let’s discuss the reasons why large practices leave their EHRs.

What causes a large practice to abandon a current EHR solution and search for greener pastures? The 2023 Tech Experiences & Impact Report for Behavioral Health & Human Services set out to answer that question. The report was collated from surveys of 269 behavioral health professionals from organizations of varying sizes, who reported on their experiences with tech solutions in the behavioral health space.

Tech Considerations for Large Practices

Unsurprisingly, the report revealed that the majority of practices rely on tech solutions to manage at least some of their most critical workflows. For example, 81 percent of organizations represented in the survey use tech platforms to manage clinical documentation. More than half use it for scheduling and assessment/screening purposes (64 percent) and new patient intake (59 percent). Fifty-three percent use it for billing, and 51 percent use it for outcomes reporting and telehealth.

Other uses of tech stack from behavioral health organizations include productivity reporting, patient portal operations, care coordination, and caseload management.

The report states that “less than half of respondents gave a 4 or 5 star rating for their EHR technologies” in the categories mentioned above. They may use the tech, but often enough, they’re not fully satisfied with the result. This a major indicator of why practices leave EHRs.

What capabilities do most providers find vital in their tech stack? The report details three important aspects:

  1. Affordability (up-front and total costs)
  2. User-friendly interface
  3. Ability to streamline current workflows

In other words, the software should improve daily work, be easy to use, and not break the bank.

Pain Points That Cause Practices to Switch Tech Stacks

When asked the question, “What are the top three reasons why your organization would choose to switch from an existing tech solution?” three answers tied for first place, with 48 percent of respondents choosing each.

1. Lack of Reporting or Metrics Capabilities

Good reporting makes for better business decisions. It can grant valuable insights into provider productivity, patient outcomes, billing and revenue, and payroll. Reporting on client outcomes can be especially critical for practices that are seeking improved reimbursement rates from payers, especially those who are establishing a value-based care reimbursement model.

For more on this topic, check out a list of the most top 5 reports behavioral health clinics use.

2. Lack of Timely Support from Vendor

All software, no matter how user-friendly, has a learning curve and will experience glitches now and then. In those moments, staff need quick responses from their vendor. If staff don’t receive great customer support, it can slow down their work.

Customer support isn’t limited to troubleshooting. Vendors should offer their customers resources to continue learning about the software after the initial onboarding. Practices need to learn about all of the software’s features in order to maximize what it can do for them.

3. Inability to configure to existing workflows

A truly helpful EHR must be at least somewhat flexible in order to meet the differing demands of customers. Different behavioral health practices have different workflows, different forms, different reporting needs, and more.

EHRs need responsive vendor support teams that can help implement customizations quickly. Any customization capabilities that staff can complete on their own are also a plus.

Other Pain Points – Why Large Practices Leave EHRs

Other themes that emerged as from the survey as common pain points include:

  • EHR interface is slow or hard to use—the interface should be intuitive for everyone at the practice, including clinicians, staff, and patients.
  • Lack of scalability to support organizational growth—a good EHR solution should grow with you as you add patients and employees, and even as you expand your locations. Three main issues that affect scalability include scheduling, organization/record-keeping, and patient communication. If you plan to scale, your EHR should excel at supporting these features.

Getting Ahead of the Problem: How to Evaluate EHRs

Evaluating an EHR thoroughly before purchase can help prevent buyer’s remorse.

When evaluating a new software, keep in the mind the following:

  • Know your pain points and what you want the software to do.
  • Ask for demonstrations of the product.
  • Go into every demonstration and meeting with a list of questions related to your pain points.
  • Get a holistic view of all the features offered by the EHR.
  • Consider looking for software built specifically for behavioral health.

What’s another answer to the question, “why do large practices leave their EHRs”? This last point is worth noting. The report concludes that “using solutions that are not purpose-built for [your] needs can lead to frustration and other challenges that impact the entire organization.” Many multi-specialty, generic EHRs simply don’t have the features that mental healthcare requires. If the software doesn’t meet specific needs,

Here are some resources to help you get started evaluating potential EHR systems:

Signs You’re Outgrowing Your EHR

A Guide to Choosing the Right Mental Health EHR

Navigating the EHR Shopping Process

EHR Buyer’s Guide for Private Behavioral Health Practices

The EHR Technology Checklist

How to Evaluate Credit Card Processing Options for Your Mental Health Practice

Considerations for Choosing an EHR: An Interview with Melinda Fierros, MD

How the Right EHR Can Help You Retain Providers

The EHR Migration Project Plan Template


The Last EHR Solution You’ll Ever Need

Preparation before purchase is your best defense against ending up with a disappointing EHR. Make sure to identify what you need a software to do, what pain points you want it to solve, and what your budget is. Once you’ve identified your potential EHR candidates, evaluate them thoroughly.

Consider purchasing an all-in-one behavioral health EHR that will offer every feature you need through one platform. Valant software was created by behavioral health providers as a one-stop shop for practices of all sizes. Valant’s solutions are built to scale with you, so you won’t have to switch vendors as your practice expands.

Get the last EHR solution you’ll ever need. Schedule a demonstration with Valant today to learn more.