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6 Things to Consider When Evaluating a New EHR Software for Substance Use Recovery Providers 

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When it comes to substance use recovery, the ability to effectively manage client records, treatment plans, and progress is absolutely vital. This is where the power of EHR software comes into play. By investing in a new EHR software, you can unlock a myriad of benefits, but it’s crucial to carefully consider a few key factors when evaluating this essential tool. 

 1. Evaluate Your Specific Needs 

When considering the costs associated with a new EHR software, it is crucial to carefully assess your specific requirements. Take into account the size of your facility, the number of clients you serve, and the specific features that are essential for your EHR software. Are scheduling capabilities necessary? What about billing and coding features? Treatment plan templates? Create a comprehensive list of your requirements to ensure that the software you choose fulfills all your needs. You can even categorize the list into “essentials” (non-negotiable capabilities without which your agency cannot function) and “nice to have” (capabilities that are not necessary but could save you time and effort). For example, you may have a lab results system but prefer it to be integrated with your EHR. 

It is important to consider that if your EHR does not meet all your requirements, you may have to invest in additional, non-integrated software. This can result in additional costs and redundancies in data entry, which can quickly deplete your budget. Therefore, it is crucial to take a holistic view of the situation. 

Another valuable tip is to compile a list of your current challenges and problems. While some issues may be beyond the capabilities of an EHR to solve (like dealing with insurance payers), this is your opportunity to address bottlenecks and other issues. For instance, if you find yourself running around with a clipboard and later entering the data into your EHR, it indicates the need for an EHR that can be loaded onto a tablet. 

 2. Research and Compare Different Options 

The market is flooded with EHR software options, each with its own pricing structure. Take the time to research and compare different software providers. Look for providers that specialize in substance use recovery, mental or behavioral health to ensure they understand the unique needs of your practice. Assess and compare features, pricing plans, customer reviews, and customer support services. This comprehensive analysis will empower you to make an informed decision and select software that perfectly aligns with your needs. 

Among all the comparisons, specialized features are of utmost importance. While one EHR’s calendar may appear more visually appealing, it is essential to ascertain that the new EHR delivers the desired return on investment. Are their templates genuinely helpful? Does it accelerate documentation? Can billing automations save you valuable time and effort? Can you conveniently submit batch requests? Does their billing system seamlessly facilitate Medicaid reimbursements? Irrespective of your specialty, you require tools specifically tailored to your needs. Off-the-shelf software simply can’t compete. 

 3. Consider Implementation and Training Costs 

Implementing a new EHR software requires time and effort. Consider the expenses associated with implementation, training, and data migration. Some software providers may offer on-site training or online tutorials, while others may require additional fees for training. It is important to factor in the time and costs when evaluating new EHR software. 

Do not underestimate the significance of these aspects. Implementation presents an opportunity to streamline your operational procedures and address any existing issues. A successful implementation allows you to achieve a return on investment and hit the ground running, while a flawed implementation can result in additional downtime. 

We understand that training can be time-consuming. With a million things on your plate, spending two hours watching a webinar may seem like a burden. However, proper training equips your staff with the skills and knowledge to be highly efficient and productive, saving you from the common hiccups that arise during software implementation. 

4. Think About Scalability and Future Growth 

Your practice may grow and evolve over time. When evaluating new EHR software, consider its scalability and whether it can accommodate your future needs. You don’t want to invest in software that becomes inadequate as your practice expands. Look for software providers that offer flexible pricing plans and options for customization. 

Beware of software that initially appears cheap but can become exorbitantly expensive for larger practices. Make sure to verify whether your EHR will penalize you for the growth of your practice. 

5. Be Aware of Hidden Costs 

Ensure that you have a clear understanding of any hidden costs associated with the EHR software. Some providers may charge additional fees for technical support, software updates, or data backups. It’s important to factor in these costs when evaluating for the software to avoid any surprises down the road. 

Take a look at what is included in your software version. Some EHRs may promote a feature that is only accessible in the priciest plan or as a paid add-on. If you are benefiting from a discount, make sure to consider the full costs once the discount expires. We also suggest leaving some room in your budget in case the software prices increase. 

6. Assess the Return on Investment (ROI) 

While evaluating for a new EHR software, consider the potential return on investment. Evaluate how the software will improve efficiency, streamline workflows, reduce paperwork, and increase revenue. Calculate the potential cost savings and revenue generation that can be achieved with the new software. This will help justify the investment and make an informed decision. 

Additionally, this evaluation will help you determine the true cost of your EHR. For instance, while your software may be pricier compared to competitors, it could eliminate the need to purchase third-party tools or hire additional staff. If you often struggle with billing delays, an EHR system that automates certain billing aspects or saves you time can contribute to long-term revenue growth. While text reminders may come with a cost, they actually help increase revenue by reducing no-shows. 

Evaluating for new EHR software for substance use recovery providers is a crucial step. By evaluating your specific needs, researching and comparing different options, considering implementation and training costs, thinking about scalability and future growth, being aware of hidden costs, and assessing the potential return on investment, you can make an informed decision that meets your requirements while improving the quality of care for your clients. 

Solutions Made for Your Mental Health with Substance Use Recovery Practice
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