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FHIR Interoperability Standards News Roundup

If you use electronic health records (EHRs) in your behavioral health practice, you may have encountered the issue of interoperability. This involves the ability of different EHR systems to share and interpret a patient’s health data. (Check out BestNotes’ previous blog posts on the subject of EHR interoperability.)

One standard for electronic health information interoperability, FHIR, has been making the rounds in quite a few articles this year. Here’s our roundup of some of the most relevant FHIR news.

FHIR Affected by Final Interoperability Rule

In March 2020, the U.S. Office of the National Coordination for Health IT (ONC) announced a new interoperability rule. This rule requires certified health IT developers to establish secure, standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs) to support patients’ access to important EHR data. FHIR is one of the standards involved, as it is required to implement the 21st Century Cures Act, which was meant to encourage EHR interoperability.

Understanding FHIR and Why It Matters

An article in Managed Healthcare Executive takes a look at FHIR itself and its significance. The latest version, FHIR 4, is considered “ready for use and stable,” and would make applications built with this version easier to be supported in the future. This article points out that FHIR API-based data exchange can encourage a more patient-centered approach to care.

The article also notes that, under the ONC’s final rule on interoperability, health plans on federal exchanges must be able to support a standardized API that is supported by FHIR 4. Starting January 1, 2021, APIs that would allow patients to access vital information like claims should meet FHIR 4 standards.

Microsoft Azure Expands API for FHIR

Earlier this year, Microsoft’s cloud computing service Microsoft Azure announced that it is expanding its API for FHIR. According to the company, this expansion will encourage interoperability and secure health information exchange.

The API was first released to the general public in November 2019. The expansion includes features that will help transform health data, including legacy health data and data from health devices, into FHIR. “Azure was the first cloud with a fully-managed, enterprise-grade service for health data in the FHIR format,” writes Heather Jordan Cartwright General Manager, Microsoft Healthcare.

Looking at FHIR’s Progress Toward Interoperability

FHIR has grown rapidly in recent years, as demonstrated by its inclusion in the ONC’s final interoperability rules. One reason for FHIR’s progress is that its creator organization, HL7, established multiple “FHIR Accelerators” to focus on important use cases.

For example, the Da Vinci Project, launched in 2018, brought together payers, providers, and health IT vendors to address FHIR use cases in value-based care. The group is focusing on projects that involve data exchange for quality measures and coverage requirements discovery. Another accelerator, the Gravity Project, examines how FHIR can be applied to data involved in care coordination and the social determinants of health.

Your behavioral health or addiction treatment practice can achieve greater interoperability, and all the accompanying benefits, with an EHR system that meets current standards like FHIR. BestNotes offers EHR and CRM solutions with features that help you collaborate and exchange information with those who need it. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo!

date:  Jul 09, 2020
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Telehealth News Roundup: June 2020

States and providers moved quickly to expand access to telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic. While the technology was already growing in popularity, its use in response to COVID-19 has increased the speed of its adoption. Here are some of the latest headlines centered around U.S. telehealth use.

Telehealth Expansion Now Permanent in Idaho

Under an executive order signed by Governor Brad Little, more than 150 emergency rules enacted in Idaho to address the coronavirus pandemic have become permanent. Many of these rules, which have been enacted since March, include expansion of telehealth platforms. This change will help expand access to care and may improve patient outcomes in the state.

Some of these now-permanent rules include allowing the use of applications like Zoom and Facetime for telehealth services. Another rule now allows out-of-state providers with valid licenses to treat Idaho residents via telehealth.

VA Expands Patient Care Via Telehealth

So far this year, VA has delivered more than 9 million telehealth appointments, including 1.1 million remote mental health appointments. Like many other health providers, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) canceled and postponed many on-site appointments while expanding its use of telehealth in response to COVID-19. VA plans to continue using telehealth as its locations begin to shift back to offering in-person appointments.

To support infrastructure improvements, including telehealth expansion, the VA Office of Information and Technology received nearly $2 billion in supplemental funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The Veterans Health Administration also received $17.2 billion for medical support.

Best Practices for Long-Term Telehealth Use

Because many clinicians implemented telehealth services as quickly as possible, they may not be fully prepared for its long-term use. An article Medical Economics offers a list of best practices to encourage a telehealth program’s success.

  • Make sure the telehealth services integrate into the rest of the practice’s workflow
  • Communicate with clients before and after the telehealth appointment
  • Instead of troubleshooting patient’s technical difficulties, refer them to separate customer support services
  • Provide proof of all telehealth visits with accurate, detailed reporting and documentation

Telehealth Could Help Control Spending

Behavioral healthcare, driven partly by recent unemployment and social isolation, is expected to contribute to increased healthcare spending in 2021. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts reported that its mental health services accounted for almost 50 percent of its increase in telehealth claims.

However, PwC’s 2021 medical cost trend report suggests that broader use of telehealth could help balance some of that increased spending. Payers may need to alter their benefit designs to incentivize mental telehealth use and work on finding the right reimbursement rate for telehealth. Many employers recognize that mental healthcare spending now could help avoid potentially larger medical bills from deferred mental health treatment, especially for members with chronic conditions.

Looking to implement telehealth at your behavioral health practice? Make sure your EHR software is compatible. BestNotes EHR solutions are specifically for use in behavioral health organizations, with support for many low-cost telehealth options. Contact us today to learn more, or schedule a free demo.

date:  Jul 06, 2020
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How to Market Your Private Behavioral Health Practice

Word-of-mouth alone is usually not enough to bring you new clients, so your behavioral health business plan should put a high priority on marketing. Marketing can be difficult for new entrepreneurs, so here are some methods to get you started.

Establish a central online presence.

These days, having an online presence is non-negotiable. Before launching your practice, get a website up and running. Include important information such as:

  • Location
  • Office hours
  • Professional background and credentials
  • Which clients you serve
  • Your specialties
  • Accepted insurance and other payment options
  • How to contact you

Don’t ignore social media.

Besides a website, you can create a Facebook page for your practice at little or no cost. This makes it easy to add and change information, or share inspiring quotes and helpful information.

Platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram can also supplement your online presence. However, your practice should still have a main website where you can direct potential clients.

Keep your social media updated regularly. Using an app like Buffer to schedule posts can help save you a lot of time.

Social media can make it difficult to balance personal and professional interactions. Set boundaries beforehand, such as not accepting friend requests from clients or responding to inquiries under your personal account.

Use secondary listings.

You can also establish a business description on Google My Business or Google Maps, as well as healthcare-specific sites like Healthgrades or Psychology Today therapist listing. As your practice becomes established, check in periodically to make sure all information is still up-to-date.

Use paid ads.

You can do a lot of marketing for free, but paid advertisement can give your practice a big boost. You can create promoted posts on social media, or use Google Ads to help your practice appear at the top of search engine results.

With online ads, you can target users who belong to specific demographics or locations, so the most relevant people will see it. Depending on your budget and client demographics, you may also consider more traditional advertising, such as newspaper ads.

Consider content marketing.

Content marketing produces and shares informative, entertaining content to answer questions or solve problems. It encourages your reputation and helps people find you more easily. This can include:

  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Informational videos
  • Email newsletter
  • Social media posts
  • Newspaper letters to the editor

You can also write guest posts and articles on others’ websites. Sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and respond to relevant queries.

Keep in mind that content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires patience and dedication.

Get involved in your community.

Participating in your own community is a great way to get the word out about your behavioral health practice. There are numerous ways

  • Give talks at local libraries or clinics
  • Offer your expertise to local podcasts or news affiliates
  • Partner with other local social services, even pro bono

Ultimately, the most effective type of marketing is the one you will use consistently. Choose one or two strategies and commit to them for a few weeks or months. Marketing requires a lot of time and hard work, but it can have a big payoff.

The right software can help all aspects of your business, from marketing to documentation to billing. BestNotes offers customizable, all-in-one EHR and CRM solutions that can help you launch and operate your private behavioral health practice with less stress and better results. Contact us today to learn more.

date:  Jun 25, 2020
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Texas Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment News: June 2020

Behavioral health concerns remain a pressing need across the country. Here are some of the major behavioral health stories circulating in Texas in the past few weeks.

Texas A&M Nursing Partners With Rural Texas Providers

Researchers with Texas A&M University College of Nursing are forming an academic-practice partnership with rural healthcare providers at five clinical sites in Central Texas. This collaboration aims to integrate behavioral health and primary care, increase care access in the region, and provide nursing education opportunities.

This partnership is funded by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The partnership at these different sites will provide primary care, led by family nurse practitioners (FNPs), that is integrated with behavioral health services. This will include onsite and telehealth care, with an emphasis on preventing and treating opioid use disorder.

Agreement Could Direct Opioid Settlement to Rural Texas

A group of Texas counties and cities have reached an agreement with the state Attorney General’s office that could allow opioid settlement funds to be directed to rural communities struggling the most with the opioid crisis. The agreement will allow Texas state and county representatives to be included in all negotiations now being conducted with opioid drug distributors and manufacturers.

Under the agreement, if a settlement is reached, an allocation structure will guarantee a 15-percent share of the settlement funds to state and local governments. The Texas Opioid Council will administer the other 70 percent to treatment programs operated by 20 regional health care partnerships across the state.

Texas Officials Exploring Mental Health Options for Inmates

Officials and mental health providers in Texas are seeking ways for county jail inmates with mental health concerns to avoid an overwhelmed state hospital system. Under the policy of “competency restoration,” most individuals in Texas who are found incompetent to stand trial must receive treatment at a state hospital. At the beginning of 2020, more than 900 individuals were on a waitlist for such treatment.

Texas is currently redesigning state hospitals to expand capacity. However, this may not alleviate the demand. Other limitations include housing for waitlisted inmates, treatment for severe psychiatric conditions, and a limited supply of rural mental health providers. Outpatient programs and jail-based, telepsychiatry programs could help reduce the waitlist. Currently, Lubbock is the state’s only mental health authority to use telemedicine inside jails, with competency restored in half the cases so far.

Telehealth Expands Mental Health Access in Rural Texas

As rural areas of Texas struggle with limited behavioral health access, the recent expansion of telehealth offers some relief. Behavioral health providers and authorities expanded their services after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily waived restrictions on telehealth in April in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This has helped provide vital support to rural areas, where residents struggle with limited access to behavioral health resources, as well as lower income and higher rates of suicide and drug overdose.

Support your clinical services with the right EHR

Whether you offer onsite or telehealth behavioral health services, BestNotes is here for you. Our EHR software is designed with behavioral health clinicians in mind, with features that allow you to improve client outcomes with maximum profitability. Contact us today to learn more, or schedule a free demo.

date:  Jun 17, 2020
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Productivity Tips for Behavioral Health Clinicians

Many entrepreneurs may struggle to stay focused without a boss to manage their schedule. Here are some tips to stay motivated and productive when you’re working for yourself as a behavioral health clinician.

Keep your workspace separate and defined.

One of the most important steps in staying productive is to create a distinct workspace that cultivates a focused, productive mindset. Over time, your mind will associate this space with work, making it easier to shift into “work mode” there.

If you see clients in your home, reserve a room exclusively for your behavioral health practice. Avoid adding distractions, such as a television, non-professional books, or snacks. Keep it clean and uncluttered.

If your behavioral health practice is in a different building, assign different rooms or spaces for specific tasks, such as a comfortable area for client sessions, a communications area for scheduling and telehealth visits, and a separate desk for administrative tasks.

Create a new routine and stick to it.

Many successful entrepreneurs are more productive because of their daily routines. From the first few minutes of their morning to winding down at night, regular routines and rituals help keep them on-task and successful.

  • Decide what is important to you, such as family time, exercising, or professional development. Make room for these priorities in your schedule.
  • Create a daily morning routine to help you stay consistent.
  • Commit to a weekly schedule. Consider reserving different types of tasks for specific days of the week, such as doing marketing on Mondays and telehealth calls on Thursdays.

Be a lifelong learner.

You will see changes in mental health research, industry standards, and community needs over the course of your career. To be successful, you will need to stay flexible and open to new information.

Consider different learning techniques to grow your professional knowledge. Be open to learning from in-person classroom events, networking, reading academic journals, educational apps, or mentoring. Set up Google Alerts for keywords in your field. Stay current on applicable licensing and accreditation requirements.

Delegate and outsource appropriately.

While it may make a dent in your budget at first, outsourcing tasks to a receptionist or virtual assistant lets you focus more on your clients and other tasks you enjoy most. This outsourcing even includes the software you use. If you use accounting, marketing, or EHR software, look for solutions tailored specifically for behavioral health or small practices.

Set clear expectations.

Set expectations and boundaries with your clients, employees, partners, and even yourself. This can help guide your relationships and prevent future confusion or problems that may otherwise limit efficiency.

  • Set professional boundaries, such as not providing professional therapeutic services to family and friends.
  • Create an informed consent form or service agreement for your clients. Check out examples from organizations like the Center for Ethical Practice.
  • Set rules for communicating with clients, including social media.
  • Clearly define employees’ tasks.

Operating your own behavioral health practice, gives you plenty of flexibility and freedom. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your routine and workflow as you learn what works best for you.

Make things easier on yourself, your employees, and your clients by using software aimed specifically at your needs as a mental health provider. BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions, created for the behavioral health and addiction treatment industry, can help you stay productive and profitable. Contact us today to learn more!

date:  Jun 08, 2020
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