September 2016

Behavioral Health EHR Selection and Implementation

Friday, September 16, 2016  by Travis Barker

For the past several years, behavioral health organizations and community nonprofits have delayed or altogether avoided implementing an electronic health record (EHR), fearing that the intimacy of their care prohibits technology use.

Additionally, EHRs have usually focused on recording information about physical health, and the choices for the Behavioral Health Care field have been inadequate. Factor in the expense of an EHR as an additional barrier, as providers are sometimes tentative or unable to raise funds for the technology, and it becomes easy to see why few organizations have embraced the technology.


These obstacles are evident when Community Non-profits and Behavioral Health providers finally begin searching for an EHR vendor. The different sizes, costs, and features of available systems ensure that each organization can find the proper fit for their needs. However, this can lead to a long search process. Obviously, any EHR product is not one size fits all. The exhaustive search is just the beginning of a lengthy process.



”EHRs are still in their youth (or adolescence), and have not yet grown into the hopes that many have for them. Templates for documentation ease of use, interoperability, ability to extract data fields, use as part of care algorithms, and responding to the multiple needs for functionality for a broad range of users are among the current issues being considered. Applications for behavioral care within EHRs suffer the same and perhaps greater frustrations of all EHR users: how to use the available technology to meet their needs.”


Rodger Kessler, PhD and Juvena R. Hitt, BS Journal of the American Board of family Medicine

Re: Electronic Health Record Challenges, Workarounds, and Solutions Observed in Practices Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care


How the Right EHR Can Revitalize Your Organization

An EHR makes it far easier to store and access patient information, which can improve the efficiency of smaller operations and ensure that the highest quality of patient care is able to be provided. A fully functioning EHR can expedite the claims process and speed up reimbursements. Still, only a few EHR providers dive deep into an organizations workflow process during the implementation period. This is a vital need for Behavioral Health Providers and Community Nonprofits who might not have the experience or resources required.




For most Community Nonprofits and many Behavioral Healthcare Providers, the cost of implementing an EHR is daunting and can often be a real barrier. However, it is important for these organizations to realize the actual cost of doing business with and without an effective Electronic Health Record in place.


The time, labor and effort needed to curate and maintain conventional paper records can be considerable. Facilities and organizations that have only a small staff may find that maintaining an outdated record system may leave them unable to deal with other concerns and more important issues.

Electronic records are designed to reduce costs while improving quality. Transitioning to electronic records allows for better adherence to the highest clinical guidelines, as they pertain to patient care. Billing becomes streamlined. Documentation is quicker and easily accessible to those that need it. Staff productivity increases along with client outcomes. Safety improvements, reduced cost, improved quality, and the many other additional benefits highly outweigh the hurdles of EHR adoption.



The hands on approach


When looking at perspective EHR systems, it is indeed important to pay attention to cost and features. However, due to the competiveness of the market, most EHR systems will have similar prices and specifications. For Behavioral Health Providers and Community Nonprofits, a key focus of their search should be gathering information on the implementation process.


EHR providers can span the entire gamut of service, from those that simply provide the product, to vendors that become like a partner to your organization. Those with a consistent, committed staff will help to ensure a smooth and successful implementation process.


When an EHR provider is able to supply hands on training, guidance, and assistance during implementation, the organization will benefit. Most Behavioral Health Providers and Community Nonprofits may not have any EHR implementation experience. An EHR provider that understands an organizations wants, needs, and goals can help tailor the system and give a hands on approach to ensure success of the EHR.






Key considerations according to


  • Define implementation support (amount, schedule, information on trainer(s) such as their communication efficiency and experience with product and company)


  • Clarify roles, responsibilities, and costs for data migration strategy if desired. Sometimes, being selective with which data or how much data to migrate can influence the ease of transition


  • Privacy and security capabilities and back-up planning


The National Council (2012).  - HIT Adoption and Readiness for Meaningful Use in Community Behavioral Health: Report on the 2012 National Council Survey. National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.



Implementing an EHR can seem daunting. The course of action for getting a system up and running roughly involves one-third technology and two-thirds in-house organizational processes. Smaller organizations should be prepared to handle the fact that staff will now shift their focus away from their normal duties and towards the implementation process.

Additionally, having an EHR provider that is available to help guide an organization through the process is invaluable. Smaller organizations without much EHR experience or lacking a large IT department should be wary of “plug and play” EHR systems with little or no training included. The few dollars saved in the short term are not worth the issues that will inevitably arise further down the road.


“EHR implementations are complex affairs. They are not simply IT projects. They are practice transformation projects that should be considered socio-technical-economic initiatives. If approached as simply software to be installed and users to be trained in using the software, an EHR implementation will undoubtedly falter or even fail.”


Robert E. Hoyt and Ann K. Yoshihashi

Health Informatics: Practical Guide for Healthcare and Information Technology Professionals







As electronic health records slowly gain acceptance within behavioral health providers and community non-profits, it becomes a competitive advantage to have a functioning EHR in place. The ability to provide documentation, financials, and other data, as well as ease of use will allow an organization to better pursue funding sources and grants. EHR systems that provide hands on training, superior customization and greater flexibility make it easier than ever for organizations to make the switch.



About Advix EHR


Advix is a web-based electronic health record and practice management system designed by trusted behavioral health professionals, for behavioral health and mental health providers. Advix behavioral health EHR offers a full-functioning, comprehensive software solution that gives your staff immediate and secure access to client data in a user-friendly, intuitive fashion.


Advix enables your organization to effectively manage clinical operations, quality improvement, resources, financial operations including claims, and schedules. The adoption of an EHR is as seamless as possible with the guidance of the Advix team of experienced behavioral health and IT professionals. Advix is the industry’s best value for a full-functioning, system for ambulatory and residential behavioral health services.
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