By: The Sigmund Team on September 17th, 2019

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The Best EHR for Behavioral Health Includes These 6 Features

Does your EHR have what it takes?

As behavioral health professionals, we want what is best for our patients. And as you know, it’s often the case that what’s best for our patients is something that they may not interact with every day. We’re talking about your Electronic Health Record (EHR). This behind-the-scenes player has become a powerhouse in the medical, behavioral health, addiction treatment and human services field, helping facilities run better and more efficiently. The best EHR for behavioral health can change your life—and the lives of your patients. The wrong EHR, however, can have a negative impact on workflows, effective time management, employee satisfaction, best practices, funding and finances, and most important--the patient.

The six features of a highly effective and best EHR for behavioral health:

When looking for an EHR for behavioral health, there are many features that you should consider taking advantage of when it comes to the latest developments in technology and finding a platform that fully meets your facility’s needs. We’ve outlined the six most important ones below.

Clinical features:

Having the right lineup of clinical features is essential to getting the best EHR for behavioral health. Be sure to look for an EHR with the following:

Documentation suite -
All EHRs have some version of a documentation suite, but not all are optimized to be the most functional and efficient. Choose an EHR that has specialized documentation tools, such as auto-population and intuitive logic that guides the user through the documentation process. 

Another way to tell if you’re getting the EHR with the best documentation suite is if it delivers a single solution that shares mission critical information across the entire enterprise in real-time. This feature is a must, providing intelligent and seamless support at the time of decision. 

Dashboard -
A dashboard can be so much more than a dashboard. You deserve an EHR with intelligently designed reporting consoles that allow clinicians to utilize visualization of a given patient based on multiple treatment factors. A good dashboard will also allow you access to composite scoring and other tools that deliver decision support capabilities—all at a glance, all right on your dashboard. 

Care coordination -
Care coordination features valuable material for clinical uses. Care coordination can help manage your clients, contacts, and alumni within a software platform. Automated workflow, system alerts, and notifications enable treatment team members to follow and or be alerted based on specified criteria.

Mobility -
What about accessing your EHR software away from your desk, perhaps securely from your phone or tablet? Well, mobility should hardly be an issue in this day and age, but guess what? It still is. The best EHR will offer secure mobility and include other tools that enhance the user experience and improve treatment outcomes. Spoiler alert: This isn’t the last you’ll hear of mobility in this post! 

Medical features:

The best EHR for behavioral health will take into consideration essential medical features. Mobility and a solid documentation suite are essential here (see above), in addition to: 

Order management -
Medications, lab orders, results, patient vital signs, and so much more: You have a lot to keep track of for each patient you see. Simplify all of it while reducing your risk of human error with a stellar order management tool. The best EHR for behavioral health will help you and your staff easily manage medications, lab orders and results, caloric intake, and vital signs, along with a wide set of other data points. Even better? It’s all in a centralized suite designed specifically for inpatient medical teams.

A high-functioning order management system provides users with the ability to view and collect assessment information, vitals, medication administration and other tasks directly from one screen. This saves you time and reduces the chance for user error. 

Your EHR’s order management system should also have your back, so to speak. Look for software that provides all mission critical information as well as automated alerts, early-detection warnings, and other decision support tools to improve care coordination and treatment outcomes.

Care coordination -  
Your patients are valuable, and so is your time. The best EHR for behavioral health will include intelligent care coordination tools. These support instant messaging, secure messaging, and other forms of alerts and notifications. Care coordination helps you make sure your treatment team members are enabled and empowered to follow and or be alerted based on specified criteria. 

Financial features:

How could we forget about financial considerations? You can’t help your patients if your facility doesn’t manage its financial resources responsibly. A good EHR will have features that help you with billing, reporting, and more. 

Revenue cycle management -
Your EHR should include both revenue cycle management (RCM) and billing features. This enables you to use one software solution to effectively and efficiently manage a complete continuum of care. You can electronically maintain and track third party financial agreements including address, contact information, contracted rates, and co-pays for treatment services.

A good RCM tool will give you access to funding source information, including self-pay and insurance information, rates, required claim form type, and benefits information. It should also help you manage payer authorizations and apply billing rules to streamline claim generation and validation. 

Real time solutions -
Look for a billing module that enables you to track claims in real time. This should also include real-time of year-to-year performance reports with just the click of a mouse.

Efficiency -  
Don’t spend more time than you need to getting paid and tracking finances. The best EHR for behavioral health should be able to: 
·       Complete clearinghouse integration with Claim Status tracking and 835 Electronic Remittance processing.

·       Intuitively execute waterfall billing and other specialized billing functions. 

·       Leverage a complete record of all payment received including source, payee, invoice, balance, write-off amount and designated GL Accounts.  

·       Utilize built in dashboards, analytics and system reports to better track and control your financial operations and service delivery. 

·       Identify operational and financial trends and respond proactively.  

·       Implement and manage organizationally defined Key Performance Indicators.  

Operational Features:

EHRs don’t do any good unless they are optimized for functionality—and they also don’t do any good if your providers and staff are too frustrated with the platform to use them. The best EHR for behavioral health will be a COO’s dream and include these features: 

Workflow engine -
Your EHR’s workflow engine should be built with your staff in mind. Good EHRs can take complex workflows across your Intake, Clinical, Medical, Operational and Administrative fields and automate them to guide decision support, making your facility more efficient so you can focus on patient care. Tasks and alerts should route to work queues, giving all staff a clear direction for next steps needed to be taken. In addition, you should utilize reporting and compliance tools to stay on track and help manage staff accountability.

Staff, facility, and accreditation management -
Your EHR should be able to track credentials, supervision logs, work orders, W2 information, staff assessments and track staff training. It should keep you up to date JCAHO and CARF audits and requirements, plus give you access to reporting and dashboard analytics. Your administration should be able to easily build out forms, assessments, summaries, and progress notes. In all cases, your EHR should allow you to fully customize role-based security. 

Outcome Features:

Get the most out of your hard work by getting an EHR that helps you track and analyze outcomes. 

Data collection -
Find an EHR that allows for simple data capture for all end users, comprehensive Golden-Thread data sharing, and analytics for outcome measurements and key performance indicator reporting. Make your life easier by opting for an automated workflow engine that will save time, improve care coordination, productivity, compliance and enhance patient experience.

Analytics -
Copy: Look for the following features in your analytics tools: Built-in dashboards and data trending within the system, and exportable reports for further research and queries.

Engagement Features: 

Improve your patient experience by leveraging mobile-enabled HIPAA secure technology to engage pre, during, and post treatment with an EHR that has these capabilities:
·       Online communication without the delays of ground mail, missed phone calls or misinterpreted voice messages. 

·       On demand patient access to information.  

·       Administration of surveys, checklists and questionnaires.

·       Ability to publish content and manage appointments.

·       Secure communication with patients through text and email options.

·       Ability to post questionnaires and manage ongoing evaluations tools.

·       Online tools for patients to pay off balances as well as view statements.   


If you’re looking for the best EHR for behavioral health, make sure it has all of the above—and possibly more! If you’d like to learn about Sigmund Software’s AURA, our enterprise software that comes with the best features—and the best support—we’d love to schedule a demo with you. Contact us today!