COVID-19 changed the way we live and how health care is delivered. One might argue that no healthcare sector has seen more significant change than behavioral health. Early statistics revealed a staggering percentage of people who suffered from anxiety or depression, 50%, and 44% respectively, during the pandemic.1 Another study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June of 2020 reported that 13% of Americans started or increased substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19, leading to a spike in overdoses.2

Fortunately, our message around mental health has grown significantly over the years, encouraging those who struggle to seek help. With mandates shutting down in-person behavioral health visits, providers turned to forms of telemedicine, such as virtual appointments and remote monitoring devices, to deliver care.

Addressing the wants and needs of your patients and staff members is essential to keep your practice/organization running afloat. In the rapidly evolving behavioral health industry, providers should ask themselves if their current technology, including their EHR, is adept enough to handle the rising caseload. As we slowly return to life pre-pandemic, providers must assess which methods to keep and which to abandon. Here are three reasons why you need to update your behavioral health software.

 

Physician burnout and staff turnover have been significant concerns in the industry. The pandemic has driven health organizations into a frenzy, and doctors and nurses have had to work extended hours to treat a large number of COVID-19 patients. According to a survey conducted last year, 64% of providers considered leaving their job in 2021; 25% have considered a career change, and 39% have considered early retirement. Many stated flexible work hours and paid time off would help alleviate burnout; however, only 29% of workers have been given more flexible hours, and only 11% have seen an increased paid time-off.3

Burnout, however, began well before 2020. The long hours and stressful work environment have been two significant causes, but many professionals attribute their EHR as the main culprit. Generally speaking, people go into medicine to help patients, but when they spend close to two-thirds of their time inputting data into a computer screen,4 it starts to feel more like a regular-old office job.

Many believe that this is just the way healthcare is now and there is no changing it, but that is a common misconception. People in the industry are quick to blame EHRs, but EHRs are not the problem; your current EHR is the problem. Cantata’s Arize gives medical staff complete control, allowing them to customize views, dashboards, templates, forms, and more! Its smooth interface makes it easy to navigate through the system and input notes in their patients’ records. Staff members can locate any treatment plan, lab/test result, assessment, progress note, or report throughout the entire database by typing in identification words, numbers, or phrases into the intelligent search function.

 

In recent years, providers have been working to find better ways to address social determinants of health (SDoH). SDoH are environmental factors that impact one’s overall health, such as culture, geographic location, finances, education, and social life. Behavioral health providers must know their patients personally because these factors can determine if specific treatments will or will not work for them. For example, a low-income patient may not be able to afford a brand-name medication, so to help, a psychiatrist should prescribe a less expensive alternative. If they know one of their patients works two jobs or has children to attend to after work, providers should offer virtual visits to accommodate their needs and save them time traveling.

Having many clients can make it hard for providers to keep track of every tiny, patient-specific detail; however, Arize can simplify this process. Users can customize their dashboard to display which patients are on the schedule for today. With one simple click, they can view their entire online record that shows demographic information, medication orders, upcoming appointments, financial information, emergency contacts, notes from their last session, etc. By reviewing all this data before the scheduled appointment, providers can more accurately treat their patients.

 

The pandemic sparked a rise in those with behavioral health issues, but luckily, COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing spreading during that time. Worldwide, we did a great job spreading awareness of mental health issues and advocating that they seek treatment. The federal government’s mental health and substance abuse referral line fielded 833,598 calls in 2020, 27% more than in 2019. In 2021, the number rose again to 1.02 million.5 However, the supply of behavioral health professionals could not meet the demand, and patients were being waitlisted or denied care altogether.

Providers are doing the best they can to try and fit patients into their schedules. While not a complete solution to this issue, Arize has scheduling tools that can help find appointments for their patients. All authorized users in the system can access patients’ schedules and other providers in the organization. Think of it like the Scheduling Assistant in Microsoft Outlook; it makes it easier to coordinate doctors’ and patients’ availability. Users can upload progress notes, documentation, and other attachments into the corresponding appointment right from the calendar view, so no bit of information gets lost or misconstrued.

 

There are a lot of issues in the healthcare system today, and the technology your organization uses can stop those problems from escalating any further. If you are not satisfied with your current EHR, call us at 631-430-9222 or contact us here.

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REFERENCES

  1. “COVID-19’s Toll on Mental Health.” BC News, Boston College, Apr. 2021, https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/bcnews/campus-community/faculty/anxiety-and-stress-spike-during-pandemic.html.
  2. Abramson, Ashley. “Substance Use during the Pandemic.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 1 Mar. 2021, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/03/substance-use-pandemic.
  3. Hedges, Lisa. “3 Solutions to Staff Turnover at Your Practice.” Physicians Practice, Physicians Practice, 14 Feb. 2022, https://www.physicianspractice.com/view/3-solutions-to-staff-turnover-at-your-practice.
  4. Jason, Christopher. “Study Shows Physician Burnout Directly Related to EHRs.” EHRIntelligence, 27 Sept. 2019, https://ehrintelligence.com/news/study-shows-physician-burnout-directly-related-to-ehrs.
  5. Bernstein, Lenny. “This Is Why It’s so Hard to Find Mental Health Counseling Right Now.” Washington Post, 6 Mar. 2022, https://cantatahealth.com/news/press-releases/this-is-why-its-so-hard-to-find-mental-health-counseling-right-now/.
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