Key features to look for when choosing EMR software for your behavioral health practice
As digital tools increasingly become a key feature of mental health care, it’s never been more important for providers to use an efficient and effective electronic medical records (EMR) software solution.
The fact is, in today’s market, choosing the best mental health EMR is about more than keeping on top of administrative tasks to make your practice run more smoothly—it’s also a necessary part of staying competitive.
Savvy behavioral health practice owners are now using innovative EMR software as a distinguishing feature to attract and retain more clients.
Features like client self-service portals, e-prescribing, secure messaging, appointment reminders, and HIPPA-certified telehealth improve patient experience and quality of care. So if your current EHR software doesn’t offer this, it’s time to consider an alternative.
To help you evaluate your current solution and make the best choice, we’ll briefly overview the benefits of good mental health EMR software, then cover 11 must-have mental health EMR features.
Benefits of Good EMR Software
The right EMR software (sometimes also called EHR or practice management software) can transform your behavioral health practice.
EMR solutions were initially focused on medical businesses, but there are now several options specifically made with the needs of mental health practitioners and substance use recovery providers in mind.
The best mental health EMR solutions will:
- Increase Productivity – By cutting down time spent on writing session notes, scheduling appointments, and managing billing, practitioners can deliver more clinical care throughout their day.
- Improve Patient Experience – Patient experience is increasingly being seen as an essential component of high-quality healthcare. Many of the features in good mental health EMR software enable providers to improve the care experience of their clients with no additional resources.
- Enhance Access and Quality of Care – EMR features like telehealth, secure messaging, and e-prescribing can improve access and quality in mental health care. For some case studies of this in action, check out our write-up of How Texas is Using Substance Use Treatment Telehealth.
Now, to help you decide on the best mental health EMR for your practice, we’ll cover 11 features that every good EMR must include.
11 Must-Have Mental Health EMR Features
One of the most common complaints from mental health clinicians is having to learn how to use several pieces of complicated software throughout their day.
While this can’t always be avoided, there are several good mental health EMRs available today that can be used as an all-in-one solution to power solo or group practices.
One of these options is TheraNest, a comprehensive yet easy-to-use mental health EMR created by therapists for therapists.
As we go through the 11 must-have mental health EMR features, we’ll briefly explain how TheraNest handles each one, so you have examples of how each component might apply to your practice.
If you would like to try TheraNest now, you can get started with a free 21-day trial today.
1. Clinical Notes & Templates
One of the biggest advantages of a mental health EMR is the ability to digitally write and store all of your clinical and counseling session notes in a HIPPA-compliant system. Ideally, your software solution will also have online templates for things like intake assessments, treatment plans, and patient contracts.
With TheraNest, you have a completely customizable HIPAA-compliant electronic clinical notes system. Plus, access to a library of over 1,000 prewritten treatment goals, objectives, and progress notes with Wiley Practice Planners.
2. Client Portal
Modern consumers want the ability to manage tasks like intake forms, scheduling appointments, and viewing invoices and accounts independently—without having to call or email the clinic. A good mental health EHR will offer this through an easy-to-use client portal.
In the TheraNest client portal, patients can see upcoming appointments, update their own demographic and billing information, and even manage children’s accounts.
An easily overlooked feature in an EMR is customizability. This feature is key to finding an all-in-one solution because if the product is not customizable, it’s likely to be missing features or cost too much because of tools you don’t need.
Our solution with TheraNest was to build customizability into our core offering, like with clinical note templates and scheduling tools, then offer additional features as add on. That way, you can get exactly what you need to run your practice while not having to pay for anything you don’t use.
4. Telehealth Capability
Telehealth is a non-negotiable for both clients and therapists alike these days. Unfortunately, many mental health providers continue to rely on ad-hoc, non-secure facilities.
When looking for the best mental health EMR, choose a solution with an integrated, HIPAA-certified telehealth option, like TheraNest. That way, you can schedule and conduct telehealth sessions all on the EMR platform with no separate downloads, logins, or hassle.
5. Secure Messaging
While 1:1 therapy is the mainstay of any behavioral health practice, secure messaging can cut down on a lot of the time spent on things like responding to patient queries and sending referrals. Think of secure messaging as a more convenient alternative to phone calls and email.
TherNest handles secure messaging through our HIPAA-compliant client portal, which allows therapists, patients, and administrative staff to communicate easily and efficiently.
6. Scheduling Tools
Double booking and missed appointments can be dramatically reduced with intelligent mental health EMR scheduling tools. When comparing options, see if each product allows things like automated reminders, staff availability tracking, and assignment of location and rooms.
TheraNest includes all of these features for group, individual, and telehealth sessions.
7. Billing & Insurance
No one wants to spend more time on billing and insurance than necessary. So be sure that the EMR solution you’re considering includes financial features that meet the needs of your clinic and your clients.
Billing is another task taken care of seamlessly in the TheraNest client portal, which allows clients to receive and pay their invoices electronically by credit card. We also have an add-on to streamline insurance claims, or you can let us take care of everything for you with our dedicated team of behavioral health billing specialists.
8. 24/7 Remote Access
The best mental health EMRs can greatly increase the flexibility in how you manage and grow your practice. A solution that allows 24/7 remote access enables you to grow your practice by delivering remote care or operating multiple locations all through one platform.
All of the convenient features of TheraNest can be used by staff and clients from any location, on any device, 24/7.
9. Customer Support
Contacting customer support from your mental health EMR shouldn’t feel like talking to an ISP provider or telco. No matter how intuitive the platform is, there will be a learning curve and an odd hiccup along the way, so it’s important to ensure your provider has accessible customer support.
When you choose TheraNest, you’ll have on-demand access to our in-house support team and a full library of detailed video tutorials.
E-prescribing solves many of the access issues around psychiatric treatment and medication management. Especially in the case of medication-assisted therapy, the ability to easily and securely access prescriptions online has led to great outcomes for people struggling with addiction.
If your behavioral health practice provides any kind of medication-assisted recovery, our e-prescribe add-on enables you to review history, check for drug interactions, write prescriptions, and handle refills—all from your TheraNest account.
11. Comprehensive Reporting
Problems with revenue cycle management (RCM) are the number one reason behavioral health practices fail. For this reason, the best mental health EMR solutions offer comprehensive reporting and RCM features.
With TheraNest, you can see what’s driving your business with easy-to-use analytics and reports. Our system also lets you create invoices, statements, and payments with batch capability. Plus, handle end-to-end insurance claims, reimbursement, and denials management.
Grow Your Practice By Delivering Better Care
Through the use of intelligent digital tools, a good EMR improves access and quality of care for patients. It also makes practitioners more efficient by streamlining administrative processes and eliminating redundant tasks.
All of this adds up to better outcomes for clients and a more profitable business for practice owners.
In the modern marketplace, there are a lot of choices when it comes to mental health EMRs—but none match the sophisticated, all-in-one solution offered by TheraNest.
With TheraNest, you get advanced practice management software for solo or group practices of any size. Our customizable approach allows you to tailor our mental health EMR to your exact needs, ensuring you have everything required to power your practice without paying for features you won’t use.
Our dedicated customer support team makes switching easy. So if you’re looking for a new EMR or purchasing one for the first time, get started with your free 21-day trial today.