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North Carolina Addiction and Treatment News Roundup: September 2019

What kind of addiction issues is North Carolina dealing with, and how are they addressing it? Here is a roundup of some of the latest addiction news making headlines around the state.

Opioid Overdoses Declining in North Carolina

For the first time in 5 years, North Carolina is seeing fewer unintentional deaths from opioid overdose. According to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, the rate declined by 5 percent in 2018, after increasing 34 percent in 2017. There has also been a decline in opioid prescriptions in North Carolina from 2017 to 2019.

Some of the reasons credited for the decline include programs and laws issued under the state’s 2017 Opioid Action Plan. In July 2019, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law the Opioid Epidemic Response Act, which decriminalized the possession of controlled substance testing strips. The health department also partnered with the North Carolina Attorney General’s office to conduct a public awareness campaign, and launched a pilot program to help treat addiction in people recently released from prison.

State Bill Would Remove Parental Rights Faster for Drug Abuse

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that would shorten the amount of time before a child of parents using illegal substances is eligible for adoption. Under a provision of House Bill 918, the process of “termination of parental rights” could be shortened to nine months.

Under the proposed bill, a judge would have to deem the mother “unable to discharge parental responsibilities due to a history of chronic drug abuse.” To remove the child from parental custody, the bill would also require that a “licensed health care provider with substance abuse disorders experience” assess the situation and determine that the mother would keep using drugs “for a prolonged or indeterminate period.”

North Carolina currently has about 11,000 children in the state’s child welfare system, a number that has risen with increased substance misuse. Of significant concern is scientific evidence that bonding with parental figures in early childhood is vital for a child’s neurological development. The trauma of having parents with substance abuse and living within the welfare system, can create many psychological and physical challenges for children.

North Carolina Will File Suits Against Eight E-Cigarette Companies

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced in August that his office plans to file lawsuits against eight companies that sell vaping products. The Attorney General’s office has accused these companies of marketing and selling products to children, which is prohibited under state law, since most of these products still contain nicotine.

The office has already filed a similar lawsuit against the e-cigarette company Juul. E-cigarette supporters say that their products help reduce traditional cigarette smoking. Critics point out that vaping products, especially those that offer flavors like cotton candy or bubble gum, may appeal to children who never tried smoking before.

Are you a behavioral health or addiction treatment provider in North Carolina?

BestNotes EHR solutions help you streamline your services and improve patient care. Measure and track outcomes, order prescriptions, and bill more easily. Contact us today to learn more, ask questions, or schedule a free demo!

date:  Sep 26, 2019
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Could Artificial Intelligence Supplement EHR Systems?

There’s no doubt that there are many advantages to electronic health records (EHRs). They can help providers get the most accurate information about patients, securely share health data, improve documentation, reduce medical errors, and improve prescribing.

Unfortunately, this handy technology has also seen its share of complaints. For example, EHRs help create enormous volumes of data, but providers are not always sure how to use, or even search, all that data. This can create frustration for providers and reduce the amount of time they spend with patients.

Now, experts are suggesting that combining EHRs with another emerging health technology, artificial intelligence (AI), could help solve some of the persistent issues with EHRs.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare?

In a previous blog post about AI, we noted that the term usually refers to computers and software that can imitate “intelligent” functions that are traditionally human, such as learning and problem solving. In healthcare, AI is usually used to analyze complicated data and reach conclusions without a human’s direct input.

One example of the practical use of AI is the increasingly popular virtual assistant (VA), such as the Siri or Alexa applications. These VAs can understand voice commands and complete tasks or perform calculations for the user.

When used with AI, a VA can “learn” the user’s habits or preferences over time to become even more useful and accurate. They may be able to understand natural language and exchange information with other smart devices and software.

How can AI help with EHRs?

Some AI developers are working to create intelligent EHR systems with built-in VAs. Ideally, these VAs would be able to perform background information gathering and analysis to make the patient data stored in EHRs more meaningful for providers.

An AI-using VA could search through the large amount of EHR data to find the most important information for the situation. AI systems can learn to recognize key terms and pull out data from clinical notes and other patient data. This can help clinicians get a more accurate picture of their patient’s health, diagnose and treat more accurately, and better prepare for an appointment.

Using a VA with the EHR could also help with more administrative tasks. With the integration of AI, clinicians could use a VA to make phone calls, place prescription orders, take notes, and better navigate the overall EHR. This can help support staff perform their tasks faster and more effectively. It could also use natural language processing to help providers capture notes, which may help them spend more time and attention on patients, not keyboards and screens,

At Yale New Haven Health, clinicians have seen great success from incorporating a VA, in the form of a digital scribe, into their EHR system. With voice recognition, the VA can assist with taking notes and pulling up patient information. This has helped providers devote more time to patient care and less on clinical documentation.

Stay up-to-date with your behavioral health EHR

BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions were designed with the behavioral health and addiction treatment provider in mind. BestNotes’ many features offer peace of mind for both providers and patients, allowing you to provide better care and streamline your office operations. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a free demo.

date:  Sep 20, 2019
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What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and How is it Used in Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers know that different therapies help different conditions and populations. The BestNotes blog has been looking at some common therapy approaches used a behavioral health or addiction treatment practice.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” that focuses on how a patient’s thought patterns have influenced their behavior and choices.

The American Psychological Association notes that CBT has three basic principles:

1) That many behavioral health problems “are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.”
2) These problems also are partly based “on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.”
3) Patients with behavioral health problems “can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.”

CBT can be used in both individual and group sessions. The frequency can vary, but most CBT sessions are conducted on a short-term basis, usually in 5-20 sessions on a once-weekly basis.

During CBT sessions, the therapist gathers information about the patient’s behaviors, thought patterns, health history, and specific concerns. Together, the therapist and patient collaborate to determine the patient’s goals and the best strategies for achieving those goals.

Like other forms of psychotherapy, CBT encourages the patient to talk about their thoughts and feelings, the difficulties they are currently facing, and how to improve their health and lives. The therapist may assign “homework” between sessions, such as journaling about their feelings, confronting certain fears, or communicating with a loved one in a new way.

Part of CBT involves the patient adopting new ways of talking to themselves, interpreting a situation, and improving the way they respond to challenges. Patients learn to recognize inaccurate or unhealthy thought patterns that lead to negative and undesirable behaviors or feelings. CBT offers more accurate, productive thinking patterns that can lead to more positive choices and behaviors.

What is CBT used for?

CBT can be used for a variety of behavioral and mental health issues. Research has shown that CBT can help lessen or resolve problems that include:

Depression and anxiety disorders
Substance abuse and addiction
Relationship problems
Bipolar disorder
PTSD
Schizophrenia
Grief and loss
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Eating disorders
Fears and phobias
Sleep disorders
Coping with physical disorders and limitations

Does CBT really work?

Studies have repeatedly found that CBT can effectively reduce symptoms of many behavioral health disorders or prevent relapses. Because of this, CBT has become the gold standard of psychotherapy.

One meta-review found that CBT helped with bulimia, aggression, and anxiety disorders
CBT is appropriate for all age groups
No currently available psychiatric approach has surpassed CBT in effectiveness
Because it is evidence-based, CBT can be customized to individuals and in response to new research

Improve the way you deliver CBT and other therapies to your patients

Treatment and management techniques for behavioral health conditions can be complicated. Whether your patients receive CBT or other types of therapy, the right EHR solution can help you and your patients set and achieve goals.

BestNotes EHR software was designed with you, your practice, and your clients in mind. Track patient progress, coordinate care with other specialists, and create all the documents you need with one optimal solution. Contact us today to learn more or request a live demo.

date:  Sep 16, 2019
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What is Artificial Intelligence, and How Is It Used in Healthcare?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of several technologies that has been gaining more attention and greater use in recent years. If you’re a behavioral health or addiction treatment provider, you may have heard a little about AI, but wondered whether it matters to your practice.

Let’s take a general look at what AI is, and how it is becoming valuable in healthcare.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Generally AI (sometimes called machine intelligence or machine learning) is a computer science term for the form of “intelligence” that machines or computers may demonstrate, rather than the natural intelligence that a person demonstrates. Nowadays, the term AI usually refers to the ability of computers and software to imitate “intelligent” functions that are traditionally human. This includes learning and problem solving.

AI usually involves the use of complex software and algorithms (sets of instructions that solve problems or perform calculations) to mimic human cognition. In the medical and healthcare fields, AI is usually used to analyze complicated data and reach conclusions without a human’s direct input.

How is AI applied in healthcare?

In healthcare, AI technology can use learning algorithms to gain and process information and provide well-defined conclusions. This is primarily useful for analyzing the relationships between treatments (or preventions) and patient outcomes.

AI technology and machine learning in healthcare are still in the early stages, but show promise for many applications. Healthcare providers and technology can use AI for:

Collecting and analyzing patient data to create a more accurate diagnosis
More precisely interpreting imaging or lab results
Providing virtual nursing assistants that remind patients to take medications, or help answer medical questions
Collecting, sharing, and interpreting data in wearable devices
Providing remote services and diagnoses via telemedicine
Using electronic health records (EHRs) more efficiently and helping with administrative workflow
Expanding care to underserved areas and developing nations

Healthcare AI is often combined with other technologies for optimal outcomes, such as surgical robotics, telemedicine software, or EHR software.

AI proponents predict that it will help decrease medical costs in many ways, including more accurate diagnoses, predicting more effective treatment plans, preventing diseases, and encouraging patient knowledge of their conditions.

While there are concerns that AI devices will replace many healthcare workers, advocates argue that, rather than replace healthcare workers, AI will give them more time and opportunities for in-person patient care and interactions. This could, in fact, help reduce provider burnout.

According to Forbes, total investment in healthcare AI could reach $6.6 billion by 2021, and may lead to $150 billion in annual savings by 2026. It appears that AI is not a passing trend, but will become an integral part of modern healthcare.

In future blog posts, we will talk about how AI can be used more specifically.

Stay up-to-date with your behavioral health EHR

BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions were designed with the behavioral health and addiction treatment provider in mind. BestNotes’ many features offer peace of mind for both providers and patients, allowing you to provide better care and streamline your office operations. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a free demo.

date:  Sep 05, 2019
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Upcoming State Electronic Prescribing Mandate Deadlines

Over the past year, electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) has gained more attention for its potential use in curbing opioid use and overdose. Many states have already implemented their own EPCS mandates, usually designed to accompany state-wide prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).

As of August 2019, nine states have EPCS deadlines approaching in the coming months. Here’s what you need to know.

Arizona

Arizona will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2020. This mandate is paired with the state’s Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program, and integration will be available September 1, 2019.

Under the 2018 Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, a medical practitioner or a pharmacist must review the past 12 months of a patient’s PDMP record before prescribing or dispensing a schedule II controlled substance.

Florida

Florida will uniformly enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2021. However, the EPCS mandate is already taking effect as prescribers’ licenses are renewed.

This mandate is paired with the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or E-FORCSE® (Electronic-Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substance Evaluation Program).

Iowa

Like Arizona, Iowa will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2020. This mandate is paired with the state’s PDMP, known as IOWA PMP AWARxE.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2020. This accompanies the state’s PDMP, called the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (MassPAT).

The state requires prescribers to use MassPAT before issuing a prescription for any benzodiazepine or schedule II or III narcotic drug.

North Carolina

North Carolina will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2020. This will accompany the state’s PDMP tool, known as the NC Controlled Substances Reporting System (CSRS).

Oklahoma

Oklahoma will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2020. This accompanies the state’s PDMP, the Oklahoma Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP).

Oklahoma state law requires all dispensers of Schedule II, III, IV, and V controlled substances to submit prescription dispensing information to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control through the PMP within 24 hours of dispensing a scheduled narcotic.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on October 24, 2019. The Pennsylvania PDMP is integrating with the electronic health records (EHRs) and pharmacy management systems of all eligible healthcare entities in the state.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2020. This mandate will work with the existing Rhode Island PDMP.

Tennessee

Tennessee will begin to enforce an EPCS requirement on January 1, 2020. This mandate will work with the existing Tennessee PDMP, known as the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database Program.

Prepare for state EPCS requirements

Is your state affected by these changes? Make sure your EHR system allows for e-prescribing so you can continue to offer appropriate, high-quality care for your behavioral health patients while remaining compliant with state, federal, and private mandates.

BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions are tailored specifically for mental health and addiction treatment providers, with e-prescribing and other medication management options. Contact us today to learn more.

date:  Aug 28, 2019
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