By: The Sigmund Team on October 21st, 2019

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The 5 Must-Have Features of a Mental Health EHR

mental health | ehr software

Before you commit, make sure your electronic health record (EHR) is going to be the best one for your facility. In general, the terms EMR (electronic medical record) and EHR (electronic health record) are used interchangeably. Here at Sigmund, we typically use EHR as you will see referenced in this blog.

When looking for a mental health EHR/EMR for your facility, there are many features that you will need to consider to enable you to take advantage of the latest in technology. These features will be the difference between a clunky, inefficient system and a smoothly running facility that gets the most out of its EHR and not only meets—but exceeds—your needs. Even better, a great mental health EHR makes a real difference in the experience of your patients.

Everyone’s needs are different in the mental health field, but there are a few universal themes when it comes to the best mental health EHR. The most successful EHRs share some common traits:

  • Exceptional task management capabilities

  • Expedite patient encounters

  • Templates that work with your needs

  • Intuitive and easy to follow workflow

  • Be accessible at anytime, anywhere

But first, let’s investigate what an EMR/EHR is and why having one is essential to the success of your mental health facility—and of your patients. 

All about Electronic Medical Records

Once upon a time, paper was everywhere. Piles of it. Piles of files, in fact. Confidential information would sit on desks, just a manila cover away from complete and total exposure to the world. Then came computers. Then the Internet. Then, the cloud. It took a lot of work to make sure patient data, especially data as sensitive as mental health information, could be stored securely electronically, but we’ve done it. We are here now and (hopefully) never going back to the days of dot matrix printers loudly and fitfully producing poorly saturated pages of patient information. 

Doctor’s offices, behavioral health facilities, rehab centers, and more use these records. Those who need a specifically tailored mental health EMR would, of course, be any type of facility that falls under “Mental Health,” from residential to inpatient/outpatient, hospitals, counseling and educational organizations, and niche practices such as eating disorder clinics. 

To replace paper records, an electronic version had to be robust, easily accessible, and many, many times more secure. As such, mental health EMRs should always include a client chart, intake documentation, a treatment plan, patient demographics, insurance information, assessments, and forms, just to name a few.

Task Management

Your mental health EMR will be of no use to you unless it improves or even drives task management. The best mental health EMRs will help you manage the ancillary, mundane tasks that are a part of a daily routine. These tasks might not be interesting, but they are far from mindless. These little things are the very fabric of your facility. A good mental health EMR reminds staff to sign notes and assessments, review lab results and approve medications, just to name a few. A great EMR will do all of this while being solution based and cover the full business spectrum and the full continuum of care. Your mental health EMR is a tool to help providers stay patient focused while keeping patient information organized and secure.

Expedite Patient Encounters

The last thing you want when meeting with a patient—whether he or she is in crisis or not—is to spend a lot of time filing through health history. The best mental health EHR helps you with this by giving you all this information with the click of a button while having full patient information available on one screen. Your EHR should make patient history—including medications, allergies, diagnosis, immunizations, and other key data points easily accessible. You, then, spend more time treating your patient and less time facing a screen.

Templates and Order Sets

It’s possible you and your staff like things the way they are. You may have a great system, even if only your office manager knows exactly how that system works. A good mental health EMR allows you to build order sets and templates to your specifications. Further, a really good EMR should enable you do to this as you are treating your patient. Your time is maximized and the clinical process is sped up and strengthened. 

Simple, Intuitive and Attractive User Interface

We all know your staff won’t want to use an EHR that isn’t user friendly. And when they are using it, it won’t be with the effectiveness and trust in the software that you were hoping for (and paid for). That’s why you need a mental health EMR that is user friendly, intuitive, and solution based. With your mental health EMR, you should be able to document in the entire clinical encounter on a single screen, without reloading any pages. This saves time and effort, as well as staff patience and allows more time to be spent patient facing. The objective of a great EMR is to move through the system with just a few clicks and even fewer frustrations. 

Access From Any Device 24/7

You’re no longer using paper to keep track of medical records, so why on earth would you commit to an electronic health record that nails you to a certain location. You’re hardly ever at your desk, and neither should your EHR be. A solid mental health EMR should be web-based and accessible from a laptop, phone, or tablet. Get answers and check in on the go. Don’t wait to get back to the office before you start doing the best for your patients. An ideal mental health EMR should allow you to provide care, no matter where you are.

Finding the best EMR for your facility is a big job. Like with any major decision, it’s best not to rush into anything. Take your time, get educated, and make sure you’re going into the relationship with your eyes open. The purchase of an EHR should very much be a long-term investment, so request to see demonstrations and make sure all of your needs are being met. The best mental health EMR companies will be glad to offer as many demos of their product as it takes. Make the best choice for your staff and patients by moving forward with a solution based EHR that you can see your facility growing with to reduce the likelihood of multiple software purchases and implementations. The right tools make all the difference - choose wisely, educate yourself along the way and you will find that you will be well equipped with a software that is a best fit for your facility. 

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