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How behavioral health providers can address workplace loneliness

As mental health and workplace wellness get more attention from the media and the general public, loneliness is emerging as a specific concern Loneliness not only affects quality of life, but creates problems at work, even among behavioral health staff.

What causes workplace loneliness?

In spite of open-office plans and increased connectivity, workers are lonelier than ever. This makes sense when you consider that technology has decreased the need for face-to-face interaction. Plus, more employees are working remotely, including in telehealth.

Behavioral health and addiction treatment professionals specifically face stress from helping individuals with complex, difficult needs. Privacy rules and other ethical boundaries limit clinicians’ ability to express concerns about patients or colleagues.

Staff also struggle with heavy administrative workloads and unique regulatory burdens, which may contribute to feelings of isolation. All this adds up to a strong potential for loneliness among behavioral health workers.

What are some effects of workplace loneliness?

CNN Business recently pointed out that workplace loneliness contributes to a variety of problems:

Reduced productivity, which can increase stress for individuals and hurt a bottom line
Lonely people may isolate themselves, potentially limiting workplace connections, communication, and teamwork
The spread of negative feelings and attitudes, reducing morale and increasing turnover

What are possible signs of workplace loneliness?

Loneliness can be difficult to recognize, especially if a person is trying to avoid appearing weak or feeling embarrassed. Signs to watch for among employees and coworkers include:

Falling productivity, including increased failure to meet deadlines
Lack of participation in meetings or social events without apparent reason
Limited or no response to group messages
Appearing tense or irritable with coworkers or clients
Taking more sick days than usual
Appearing to deliberately avoid interaction

What should behavioral health leaders do about workplace loneliness?

Loneliness has wide-reaching effects beyond the individual, so office managers and other behavioral health leaders should take steps to combat workplace loneliness.

Make sure new providers or administrative staff receive a personal onboarding experience, including thorough introductions and ongoing support.

Follow up with employees. Months after being hired, keep checking in periodically to make sure they feel connected and their needs are being addressed.

Show appreciation. Many employees feel lonely when they feel that they are not making a difference or their work is unnoticed. Gestures can be small, such as a short email or note to say thanks, or publicly acknowledging them for a job well done.

Encourage occasional outside gatherings, such as happy hours, employee lunches, holiday parties, or other casual get-togethers. Make sure everyone is explicitly invited.

Deliberately solicit employee input to keep them engaged. This is important for remote workers who may occasionally feel forgotten or isolated.

Communicate face-to-face when possible, rather than sending a message.

Make small efforts to get to know people, such as asking about their families or interests.

Encourage communication and teamwork with the right EHR

You don’t have to do without health IT to combat workplace loneliness. With the right EHR solution, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers can communicate more effectively, encourage teamwork, and boost productivity.

BestNotes EHR was developed specifically to help behavioral health practices stay streamlined and cost-effective without sacrificing employee well-being. Contact us today to learn more about how BestNotes can help you improve your care, track patient outcomes, and boost practice revenue.

date:  Jul 23, 2019
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Upcoming EPCS Mandates and Changes: What You Need to Know

Electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) has gained popularity in recent months as a way to better track opioid use and reduce fraud and misuse. Many states have already implemented their own EPCS mandates, but the federal government and even private companies also have gotten involved.

Federal Legislation and Requirements for EPCS

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) gave providers permission to use EPCS in 2010, along with a set of standards for the EPCS systems that providers, pharmacies, and health IT vendors use. To be DEA compliant, an EPCS system must include:

Certification of the EHR/e-prescribing application
Identity proofing to confirm that a provider is authorized to prescribe controlled substances
Two-step logical access control to provide EPCS permissions to approved prescribers
Two-factor authentication for providers who sign an EPCS prescription
Comprehensive and detailed reporting to demonstrate compliance and to identify auditable events and security incidents

In October 2017, President Trump declared the opioid addiction epidemic a Nationwide Public Health Emergency. One year later, he signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This 250-page law includes multiple initiatives intended to address opioid misuse and addiction, and requires EPCS for all controlled substances under Medicare Part D by January 1, 2021.

Individual State EPCS Mandates

Due to the effectiveness of EPCS in curbing fraud, many individual states passed their own mandates. New York first mandated EPCS in 2016, with others quickly following.
Pennsylvania’s deadline for moving to EPCS is October 24, 2019. Arizona, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island all have mandates that will take effect January 1, 2020.

In September 2018, California passed a law that requires electronic prescribing for all medications—not just controlled substances. This law is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2022.

In many states, EPCS mandates are designed to work in conjunction with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). Under these programs, pharmacies submit information on the controlled prescriptions they dispense. These programs help identify patients who may exhibit drug-seeking behavior, and provide data on controlled medication use.

Pharmacy and Private Company EPCS Requirements

Pharmacies and other organizations also have implemented private mandates regarding EPCS. For example, Walmart pharmacies will no longer accept paper prescriptions for controlled substances after January 1, 2020. This is part of the company’s Opioid Stewardship Initiative to curb opioid misuse.

This year, the McKesson Corporation, a U.S. pharmaceutical distributor, will stop selling opioids to customers who cannot accept EPCS. To help with this change, the company has announced an intention to work with customers that have yet to make the transition to e-prescribing.

Health IT solutions developer DrFirst, which provides software used in BestNotes EHR, has updated its e-medication management platform. The company will discontinue its Rcopia3 software on January 1, 2020, and is requiring all users to move to Rcopia4. Available since 2016, Rcopia4 offers new features, including a unified integrated workflow experience for writing narcotic prescriptions and checking PDMPs.

Using EPCS with your EHR

Don’t get left behind in the changing regulatory environment. 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:  Jul 09, 2019
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Texas Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment News Roundup: Summer 2019

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, […]

date:  Jul 02, 2019 comments:  Comments Off on Texas Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment News Roundup: Summer 2019
by:  Nicole Hovey category:  Blog Read More

What is EPCS and What Should You Know About It?

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.

date:  Jun 26, 2019
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Telepsychiatry Shown to Help Close Behavioral Health Treatment Gaps in Rural Areas

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.

date:  Jun 19, 2019
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