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What is the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) and why does it matter for your practice?

Did you know there’s an association for EHR developers in the United States? When looking for an EHR provider, there are good reasons to first consider a member of the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA).

What is EHRA?

The EHRA was created in 2004 to help EHR developers collaborate and resolve common concerns among their businesses and customers. The association believes that widespread EHR adoption can improve patient care and healthcare productivity.

The association also encourages open dialogue and collaboration between health IT companies and providers, including clinicians and hospitals.

EHRA members support ideas that include:
Rapid adoption of EHRs and other healthcare IT
Improved EHR interoperability and usability
Safety in healthcare delivery
Continued EHR and healthcare IT innovation
Conducting business with integrity
Healthcare research and transformation
High quality and efficiency of care
Developing health IT standards and certification processes
Representing customers’ needs and points of view
Transparency in business

Requirements for EHRA membership

To become or remain a member of the Electronic Health Record Association, a company must fulfill several requirements:

Be a HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Corporate Member “in good standing”
Design, develop, and market its own proprietary EHR software
Be a legal, reputable EHR vendor
The member’s EHR software application must be commercially available in the United States
Have at least five EHR customer installations in commercial use in the United States

EHRA Developer Code of Conduct

The EHRA launched the EHR Developer Code of Conduct in June 2013. The EHRA developed this code with several stakeholders to promote many of the EHRA’s ideas.

The EHRA’s code of conduct covers numerous aspects of EHR use. A few of these include:

Interoperability: The EHRA believes “that data should follow the patient.” The association encourages clients to exchange clinical information with other parties involved with a patient’s care. Whenever possible, EHR companies should use available, uniform standards for developing software interfaces.

Patient safety: The code recognizes that all stakeholders share responsibility for patient safety. EHR vendors should participate with recognized groups for reviewing and analyzing patient safety events. They should also share safety best practices with clients, and offer processes by which EHR clients can report patient safety-related issues.

Security: Software and business practices should be developed with the goal of securely handling protected health information (PHI). EHR companies should commit to following PHI best practices, recognizing that they are stewards of confidential information.

The EHRA encourages all EHR companies to adopt the code, even if they are not an association member.

Why work with an EHRA member company?
Because of its membership requirements, healthcare managers and providers can expect a high level of quality when partnering with an EHRA member company. EHR vendors with EHRA membership are in good standing, both in business and legally, and are well established in their field.

In addition, you can expect members of the EHRA to value the same principles as the association, including interoperability, patient safety, and meaningful use.

Dedication to quality, safety, and usability

EHRA member BestNotes is committed to creating HIPAA-compliant software applications for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers. Contact us today to ask about a free trial and bring your organization to the next level.

date:  Nov 26, 2018
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News Roundup: Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment in Idaho

As behavioral health and addiction treatment gets more attention across the nation, Idaho is taking steps to tackle mental health issues. Here’s the latest behavioral-health news across the state.

Idaho Receives “F” Grade for Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment Coverage

Idaho has received an “F” on compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, according to a report by the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity. The advocacy group gave failing grades to 34 U.S. states.

Under this law, insurers must cover mental illness and behavioral health just as they would cover other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer. In Idaho, one state law references mental-health parity, but applies only to state government employees and their dependents. Idaho’s law also provides equal coverage for only seven behavioral-health conditions, excluding addiction treatment.

New VA Clinic in Idaho Falls Adds Mental Health Expert

The Idaho Falls Outreach Clinic, a new location under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is now accepting patients. The VA will host an official grand opening ceremony on Dec. 6. The new clinic has a capacity of three times its previous location, and also provides new behavioral health benefits for the area’s veterans.

The new VA clinics are being designed to be more streamlined, with shorter wait times and electronic kiosks for walk-ins. The new facility also will have an on-site mental-health expert for patients with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cassia County Pilots Mental-Health Program for Students

Idaho’s Cassia County School District launched a year-long pilot program called CONNECT to offer behavioral health services to students. Students at participating schools have access to free, confidential, in-person counseling for behavioral health issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, addiction, suicidal thoughts, and bullying.

A student or parent must notify a school counselor or teacher about their desire to receive the services. The family then receives contact information to set up an in-person appointment with a licensed clinician. The program is being funded through grants and private donations.

Boise Offers Addiction Treatment for Non-Violent Offenders

The Boise Police Department is launching the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program to help curb opioid addiction. The pilot program will provide opioid addiction treatment as an alternative for jail time for non-violent offenders. The program is being funded in part by a new Idaho Department of Health and Welfare grant created to fight the state’s opioid epidemic.

Those who successfully complete the outpatient program, which will include counseling and medication-assisted treatment, could see their original charge reduced or dismissed.

Idaho Counseling Association: 2018 Super Conference

The Idaho Counseling Association (ICA) is holding its 2018 super conference at Boise State University. The “pre-conference” is November 14-15, with the actual conference to be held November 16-17. ICA gathers counseling and human development professionals to encourage human development.

Session topics in this year’s conference include current trends in teen substance abuse, bullying, and preventing burnout.

Meet Current Challenges for Behavioral Health Providers

Improve your behavioral health and addiction treatment services with an EHR created specifically for your practice. Contact BestNotes today to learn more or request a live demo, or stop and see us at the ICA conference!

date:  Nov 14, 2018
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ASAM and CARF Partner to Develop Addiction Treatment Certification

In October 2018, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the accreditation nonprofit CARF International (CARF) announced a partnership to launch a pilot program for certification of addiction treatment programs.

The pilot program will assess treatment programs on their ability to adhere to a specific level of care, based on ASAM criteria. To start, the program will offer certification standards based on Level 3 of the ASAM Criteria, which includes residential treatment programs. The organizations may eventually develop certifications for other levels of care.

ASAM and CARF expect to launch the pilot program in early 2019. A second phase will add verification, and the program may be more widely available later in 2019.

What is ASAM and the ASAM Criteria?

ASAM is a U.S. addiction medicine society that represents professionals such as clinicians and physicians. The organization aims to improve access to and quality of addiction treatment, and to educate professionals and the public about addiction treatment.

The ASAM Criteria is a set of guidelines for the placement, treatment, and discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring disorders. Patients, providers, and other stakeholders can all use ASAM criteria to develop an individualized addiction treatment plan. More than 30 states now require the use of the ASAM Criteria.

The criteria takes a holistic approach that considers the whole patient, as well as their specific needs and strengths, and not just a single behavioral health condition. Patients can better understand their treatment options and be actively engaged in their own behavioral health care. Clinicians and therapists are more prepared to determine the best service for the patient’s goals and help the patient through addiction treatment.

What is CARF International?

Originally founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CARF International independently accredits health and human service providers. This includes behavioral health, medical rehabilitation, and opioid treatment program providers.

Through its accreditation, CARF promotes quality, value, and best outcomes that help improve patient quality-of-life. The organization promotes dignified, respectful treatment of patients, and their empowerment to make informed choices.

How will this partnership benefit providers?

Addiction treatment providers must meet specific criteria under the new certification program. This will not only help them receive certification, but also achieve results-based care for addiction disorders.

According to Dr. Paul H. Earley, ASAM president-elect and an author of The ASAM Criteria, the new pilot program will help addiction treatment programs “validate their ability to provide care consistent with ASAM’s nationally recognized best practices.”

The certification may also improve an addiction treatment provider’s standing among their industry, patients, and community. Receipt of ASAM Level of Care Certification will demonstrate their dedication to quality and research-based treatments.


How will this partnership benefit patients?

Certification under the pilot program could provide transparency to addiction treatment patients. By choosing a provider with ASAM Level of Care Certification, patients will be assured that their behavioral health provider is dedicated to working with them on results-driven addiction treatment that will be tailored to their individual needs.


Achieve best practices with the best tools

Designed for addiction treatment professionals, BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions offer features and support to help take your organization to the next level. Contact us for more information.

date:  Nov 02, 2018
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Causes, Consequences, and Solutions to Clinician Burnout

Provider burnout is increasing across the United States, rising about 20 percent between 2011 and 2014, researchers from Mayo Clinic Proceedings found. This creates health hazards for clinicians and their patients.

What is “Burnout”?

Generally, burnout is defined as feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion, increased cynicism, lower motivation, and even feelings of pointlessness or ineffectiveness.

What causes burnout?

Many factors contribute to burnout. Some of the most common include:

Lack of belonging at work

In several studies of mental health providers, researchers found that individuals who have higher perceptions of support and a greater sense of belonging in the workplace are less likely to experience burnout. Younger providers may be at greater risk of burnout, possibly because they have had less time to cultivate a sense of belonging or to develop skills to cope with patient trauma.

High expectations and stigma

Society expects therapists to put their patients’ needs before their own and have all the answers. They may also be tempted to blame themselves for feelings of burnout, thinking they should have been able to prevent it.

Regulatory burdens
Staffing shortages, company consolidations, and the ongoing opioid crisis have increased the workload for counselors. This also hinders their ability to achieve work-life balance, increasing stress and career dissatisfaction.

Lack of leadership support
Mergers and acquisitions and changing leadership can create uncertainty among behavioral health staff. Often leadership roles are not filled by experienced clinicians, which means that executives are less knowledgeable about providers’ needs. This can hinder communication and create frustration and stress.

Consequences of Burnout
Although providers may suffer in silence, the consequences of burnout can be wide-reaching. A few of them include:
Increased risk of medical and administrative errors
Higher staff turnover
Patient dissatisfaction
Drug and alcohol abuse among counselors
Feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide
Physical symptoms such as headaches and gastrointestinal issues

How to Prevent or Reduce Counselor Burnout

Even when the causes of burnout are systemic, there are ways that therapists and practices can reduce burnout risk:
Healthy stress management: Individual clinicians can learn methods for stress management. Practices may consider offering stress management workshops for team members.
Promote flexible and part-time scheduling: Encourage work-life balance among clinicians by giving them more control over scheduling options.
Shift administrative tasks to non-medical staff: Letting therapists do what they do best can help them regain their sense of purpose and reduce frustration.
Reach out for support: Having their own therapist or mentor can help clinicians cope with feelings of burnout.
More efficient tools: Use the right EHR system for your practice, one that offers easy implementation, reduced clicks, and thorough technical support.

Don’t settle for a frustrating EHR system that contributes to burnout. BestNotes solutions are created with behavioral health and addiction treatment providers in mind, allowing you to do what you do best. Contact us to learn more.

date:  Oct 22, 2018
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Medically Assisted Treatment for Keeping Opiod Users Safe

There are significant risks associated with the long-term use of opioids, yet many patients depend on them for long-term pain management. A growing body of research shows that the right treatment approach can make patients safer, even when using opioids in the long term.

Risks of Long-Term Opioid Use

Chronic pain affects millions of Americans, creating an estimated $600 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

While long-term opioid use can help reduce pain and maintain quality of life, there are numerous risks. Besides increased tolerance, dependence, and addiction, other potential issues associated with long-term opioid use include:

Nausea and bowel disorders
Depression and anxiety
Sleep disturbances and abnormal breathing
Cardiovascular risks
Increased risk of falls
Hormone disruption

If a patient’s pain is best managed with long-term opioids, they likely have complex healthcare needs. This makes opioid use a complicated decision. Providers have to consider many factors, including the patient’s quality of life, when deciding whether to recommend continuing or tapering off opioid use.

What New Research Shows

In a study described in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers evaluated how the use of healthcare changed among 772 patients. Study participants\ were receiving long-term opioid therapy for chronic, non-cancer pain. These patients were enrolled in a controlled substance agreement (CSA) in 2015.

Researchers looked at patient data 12 months before and after CSA enrollment. Specifically, they looked for a decrease of 1 or more hospitalizations or emergency department visits and 3 or more outpatient primary and specialty care visits.

Study results indicated that CSA enrollment was associated with decreased outpatient primary care visits. Among patients with greater comorbidity, CSA enrollment was associated with fewer outpatient primary care visits and reduced specialty care visits.

Qualities of an Effective Controlled Substance Agreement (CSA)

Patients in the CSA received an individualized plan for managing their pain. This included:
Psychological screening
Pain monitoring
Prescription monitoring programs
Drug testing to evaluate the patient’s opioid use
Advising CSA participants to have only one care team prescribe the opioids
Expectations for follow-up appointments among patients
Showing patients how to store medications safely
Warning patients not to share medications
Warning patients not to change doses without contacting the prescriber

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependency
For patients with opioid use disorders (OUD), there are numerous options for reducing dependence.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has been shown to be an effective form of treatment. This approach uses one of three FDA-approved medications, along with counseling and behavioral therapies. The three medications currently approved for treating opioid dependence include buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.

Because of the effectiveness of MAT, the FDA recommends that anyone seeking treatment for an OUD be offered access to any of the three medications. Because OUD may be a chronic condition, providers and patients should occasionally reevaluate the need for continuing with MAT. It is possible for MAT to be indefinite for some individuals.

Besides understanding of their patients’ treatment needs, behavioral health providers need the right tools to operate an effective practice. Contact BestNotes today to get started with EHR and CRM solutions tailored to your specific needs.

date:  Oct 16, 2018
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