While Texas boasts opioid overdose rates below the national average, the Lone Star State has not been completely free of addiction and other behavioral health concerns. Here are a few of the behavioral health news stories making the rounds in Texas. Texas launches GetWaiveredTX to help expand buprenorphine use A group of health care providers, […]
Providers, government agencies, researchers, and other stakeholders continue to seek ways to reduce the nation’s opioid epidemic. In recent months, electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) has gained more attention as a potential tool.
What is EPCS?
Many physical and behavioral health providers participate in electronic prescribing of medications, also known as e-prescriptions or e-prescribing. This way, the patient does not have to carry a paper prescription from their provider to the pharmacy.
With e-prescribing, providers enter a prescription into their electronic health record (EHR) or other system and send a request to the pharmacy. The pharmacist receives the prescriber’s instructions, fills the prescription, and notifies the patient.
According to the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the proportion of physicians who used an EHR for e-prescribing increased from 7 percent in December 2008 to 70 percent in April 2014. The office also reports that, in April 2014, every state had at least 90 percent of community pharmacies enabled to accept e-prescriptions.
How does EPCS help the opioid crisis?
Paper prescriptions are easier to forge, steal, or sell. This has allowed addicted individuals to obtain more opioids, even against their doctor’s recommendations. EPCS can significantly reduce prescription fraud and errors, since it bypasses the patient and allows the prescriber to directly communicate with the pharmacy.
The use of e-prescribing also helps track and record prescriptions in real time. This helps reduce “doctor shopping,” in which an individual visits multiple providers to obtain numerous prescriptions in a short amount of time.
With EPCS, The provider’s orders automatically go into the EHR, making them accessible to the pharmacy and payers almost immediately. This removes the need for pharmacy benefit managers to manually enter prescription information. Providers and pharmacies are able to access this information to identify behaviors that may indicate addiction or opioid misuse.
What are other electronic prescribing benefits?
Besides reducing misuse of controlled substances, e-prescribing offers numerous other benefits for patients, providers, and payers. These include:
Reduced prescription drug errors
Requires prescribers to provide dose, route, strength, and frequency, reducing confusion and providing automated support
Helps clinicians track medication history and alerts them to potential drug interactions
Helps providers meet meaningful use requirements
Makes staff more efficient by reducing their need to manage refills
Speeds up insurance verification for prescription coverage
Using EPCS with your EHR
Many EHR solutions include e-prescribing and EPCS capabilities. If your behavioral health or addiction treatment practice is looking to implement or switch to a new EHR, your new solution choice should offer a variety of options related to e-prescribing.
For example, BestNotes EHR solutions offer several EPCS features:
Electronic medication administration record (eMAR) that provides a permanent, legal record of the drugs administered to your patients, which helps you track a patient’s medication history and remain compliant
EPrescribing through DrFirst, which notifies users of medication allergies and other conflicts with the medication prescribed
Identity verification for prescribers of controlled substances to help reduce fraud
Don’t get left behind in the changing prescribing environment. Make sure your EHR system allows you to continue offering appropriate, high-quality care for your behavioral health patients.
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.
Across the United States, many communities have limited access to quality behavioral healthcare, even as demand rises. The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) found that demand for addiction counselors alone may increase anywhere between 21 to 38 percent by 2030, creating a shortage of these professionals.
As mental health awareness grows and the opioid addiction crisis continues, providers and payers are seeking ways to help close care gaps. Telepsychiatry could help many patients gain access to behavioral health resources.
Rural behavioral health needs
While most Americans experience a mental health need at some point, rural communities often lack sufficient mental healthcare.
Sixty-five percent of non-metropolitan U.S. counties do not have a psychiatrist, and 47 percent do not have a psychologist, researchers report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The same study found that the average supply of psychologists in non-metropolitan counties was less than half the supply of metropolitan counties.
Experts point out that a lack of access to mental and behavioral healthcare could worsen public health issues like drug addiction and suicide. The shortage of providers often means that people avoid getting treatment for behavioral or mental healthcare until it is an emergency or crisis situation. This can drive up healthcare costs and reduce quality of life.
What new research shows
Telepsychiatry could be a vital resource for individuals in rural and other underserved areas. Researchers with Genoa Healthcare and Relias found that patients receive more timely care and had more regular psychiatric appointments when telepsychiatry was combined with in-person visits.
The study included 242 Medicaid patients in rural Missouri who received care for severe mental illness. Patients with telepsychiatry access were seen 7 days sooner and were 34 percent more likely to have regular follow-up visits compared to patients who only received in-person care. These findings appear in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Rural Mental Health.
What does other research show?
New research data support previous findings that behavioral telehealth can help close care gaps. Several communities are now taking advantage of these benefits.
To help address shortages of mental healthcare in the state, the University of North Dakota’s medical school now trains psychiatry residents in treating rural patients remotely.
The Board of McLean County, Illinois, voted in 2018 to approve an agreement with a telepsychiatry company to provide treatment for behavioral health referrals. This may help close treatment gaps after the county’s Center for Human Services stopped accepting new clients for psychiatric treatment.
Dr. Yilmaz Yildirim of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, conducted a 32-month study that compared the number of adult and child evaluations and follow-ups between face-to-face and telepsychiatry services. Among patients in rural counties in eastern North Carolina, there was no significant differences between those who made in-person or remote visits. Both patients and clinicians were satisfied with remote visits.
Pair telepsychiatry with EHR
Getting started with remote behavioral health or addiction treatment? Make sure you use your telehealth solution with a tailored behavioral health EHR. BestNotes EHR was developed specifically to help behavioral health and addiction treatment practices stay streamlined and cost-effective.
Contact us today to learn more about how BestNotes EHR can help you improve care, track patient outcomes, and increase practice revenue.
Opioid misuse, alcoholism, and other forms of substance use disorder (SUD) continue to impact communities across the country. Telehealth and remote monitoring have become credible options for addiction treatment, especially for individuals in underserved locations.
Current Addiction Treatment Needs
Addiction treatment is facing many challenges across the United States, including:
Healthcare worker shortages throughout the nation
Tight regulatory controls that may limit treatment options
High rates of SUD in rural locations, worsened by factors like poverty and isolation
Hesitancy among existing providers to receive training to provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
Lack of convenient behavioral health resources, such as residential treatment centers and methadone clinics
Remote addiction treatment, provided through telehealth and other online options, could help close some of these treatment gaps.
What Science Says About Remote Addiction Treatment
Several studies have validated the use of remote, digital options for addiction treatment.
Research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry noted that online and mobile applications provide more information and services to patience, which can enhance treatment by giving clinicians access to real-time patient data.
Some research suggests that remote monitoring, such as measuring blood alcohol content, may help encourage abstinence among people struggling with alcohol addiction.
Telehealth is also more likely to succeed when patients are more engaged. One example is the intervention LINKAGE, which uses electronic health records and patient portals to engage patients with SUD and other complex health needs. LINKAGE teaches participants how to use the patient portal and encourages collaborative communication skills.
Researchers studied its effectiveness at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California San Francisco outpatient addiction treatment clinic. Participants assigned to LINKAGE had higher abstinence rates and were more likely to talk to their physician about alcohol and drug problems outside of the treatment program.
Other studies of telehealth in addiction treatment and recovery have found that results for telephone-based addiction services may be superior to traditional continuing care. Patients who use videoconferencing addiction services report equivalent results and satisfaction compared with in-person care. Web-based telehealth services have been found to be comparable and even more effective than traditional addiction treatment.
Future of Remote Addiction Treatment
Providers and regulators continue to debate the validity of telehealth and how to incorporate it into the opioid crisis and other addiction issues. This year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is considering the possibility of allowing addiction treatment medication to be prescribed through videoconferencing. If approved, this could give patients another option for addiction treatment and expand access to highly effective MAT.
While telehealth, telepsychiatry, and other forms of remote addiction treatment could improve treatment access, there are still challenges to be addressed. Providers and other users note that telehealth still requires billing and other time-consuming, administrative tasks. There may also be barriers to implementation of telehealth that could limit its use.
Ideally, telehealth should not be used exclusively, but works best as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program tailored to the individual’s specific needs.
Support Your Telemedicine Practice With Specialized EHR
BestNotes EHR was developed specifically to serve behavioral health and addiction treatment practices. Whether you’ve already invested in a telehealth program, you are just starting the process, or simply considering adding it to your practice, BestNotes can help you stay streamlined and cost-effective.
Contact us today to learn more about how BestNotes EHR can help you improve care, track patient outcomes, and increase practice revenue.
Florida may be the Sunshine State, but it still faces difficulties that include widespread addiction and a shortage of mental-health clinicians. Here are some of the recent developments affecting behavioral health in Florida.
Most Florida Children Not Getting Mental Health Help
Although nearly 400,000 children in Florida need behavioral healthcare, as many as 55 percent don’t receive it, says health official Jeffrey Brosco. He reported to the Florida Healthy Kids Corp. Board of Directors that this equates to about one child in every classroom. One reason is that the state lacks enough behavioral health providers who treat children and adolescents.
Brosco hopes to use part of Florida’s “Title V” funding program, which supports the health of mothers and children, to help build regional collaboratives with state universities. These collaboratives would help increase the number of primary-care providers who can treat more common behavioral health concerns, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety.
Florida lawmakers recently approved a 2019-2020 state budget that includes $75 million for mental-health services at schools, up from $64 million for the current year. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis also announced the “Hope for Healing” campaign, which will combine state agency resources to help prevent drug addiction and address mental-health issues in youth.
Florida Considers Rule Changes Involving Mental Health
Florida is considering changes to a rule regarding Medicaid coverage for behavioral health services for individuals not currently in the Medicaid managed-care program. According to Ben Browning, an executive at the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, current rules are unclear about whether clinical social workers and psychologists can bill Medicaid for therapy sessions. If accepted, the proposed changes would let these clinicians provide services in schools and other locations, potentially expanding access.
Florida Legislature Passes Bill Expanding Needle Exchange
Both the Florida House and the Florida Senate have passed the Infectious Disease Elimination Programs bill, which creates a way for counties to authorize needle exchange programs. The bill is now waiting for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign or veto it. The bill passed 111-3 in the House and unanimously in the Senate.
Under these programs, injection drug users can exchange used syringes for clean ones. Research shows that needle exchange programs can help reduce bloodborne diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C. However, Miami-Dade currently has the only legal needle exchange program in the state.
Authors of the Infectious Disease Elimination Programs referred to Miami-Dade’s program, called the IDEA Exchange, when creating their bill. Besides offering clean needles for dirty ones, the Miami-Dade program also provides naloxone, testing for HIV and hepatitis C, and connections to medical care and addiction treatment. Program leaders report that, in the last three years, more than a quarter million used needles have been removed from circulation and more than 1,000 overdoses have been prevented.
Behavioral Health EHR for Florida Providers
Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers in Florida face numerous challenges, but finding and implementing the right EHR solution doesn’t have to be one of them.
BestNotes offers an EHR and CRM system that helps you save time and increase practice revenue, while making both your staff and your patients happier. For more information, including a free demo, contact us today!