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Why Interoperability Matters to Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment Professionals

In a previous BestNotes blog post, we provided an overview of interoperability, what it looks like, and its history. But why does it matter specifically to behavioral health providers and those working in addiction treatment?

Interoperability in Practice

Because it facilitates communication, interoperability can benefit patients, providers, and payers in a variety of ways:
Improved care: Data sharing among providers is an important benefit of interoperability. As both providers and payers focus more on value-based care, which emphasizes improved patient outcomes, clinicians need a picture of a patient’s entire health. This often requires a patient’s different clinicians to be in contact with each other.

Increased efficiency: When information can be shared quickly and consistently, clinicians can make better decisions, faster. This can help them better focus on patient needs, improving outcomes. Better data sharing also puts less of a burden on patients to convey information from one provider to another, or between the provider and payer.

Lowered costs: Greater efficiency in data sharing can lower costs by reducing the risk of errors in billing or patient records, which also helps save staff members’ time. By improving care, interoperability can lower healthcare costs by reducing the risk of diagnosis or treatment errors, or removing the need for unnecessary testing.

More providers and payers recognize the value of data sharing, and electronic health record (EHR) technology is becoming more widely implemented. This will make interoperability an increasingly important issue for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers to address.

Interoperability Regulations

Clinical implementation aside, there are numerous regulatory changes that have made (or will make) interoperability an unavoidable issue in healthcare.

As policymakers and regulators promote not only EHR use but interoperability, new laws and standards may extend to behavioral health. Here are a few things behavioral health providers may want to keep an eye on:

Launching Interoperability Under HITECH Act

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was intended to promote meaningful use of health information technology. This law legislatively mandated the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which is intended to support the adoption of health IT and promote interoperability.

Medicare’s MyHealthEData Initiative Would Encourage Interoperability

In February 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed new rules to support interoperability in electronic health information (EHI). These proposals are intended to increase choice, competition, and innovation in health information. Under the rule, patients would be given electronic access to their EHI at no cost.

Does your EHR promote interoperability?

As interoperability becomes more prominent, behavioral health providers should make it a goal when choosing and integrating their EHR system.
BestNotes offers EHR and CRM solutions tailored specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, 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:  Mar 27, 2019
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Documentation that never gets old!

One of the primary problems with Electronic Health Records in the Behavioral Health industry is change is constant; the clinical documentation you customize today will be outdated within months. It’s overwhelming to keep up-to-date with new CARF, Joint Commission, Payer, Managed Care, State or County regulations. After years of research and development, BestNotes is proud to release a series of pre-built clinical documentation and workflows that are regularly updated.

BestNotes now offers two documentation profiles depending on your clinical focus: Behavioral Health or Addiction Treatment. The clinical workflow begins at admission and continues through the following treatment process:

Addiction Treatment Profile

Admissions / Intake
Online Patient Application
Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment (Multi-Dimensional Format)
Psychiatric Evaluation
History and Physical
Treatment Planning
Master Treatment Plan
Treatment Plan Review
Individual Progress Note
Group Progress Note & Report
Medical/Psychiatric Progress Note
Collaboration of Care Note
Drug UA Note & Report
Treatment Team Note
Utilization Review document
Continuity of Care
Discharge Summary

Behavioral Health Profile

Admissions / Intake
Online Patient Application
Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment
Psychiatric Evaluation
Substance Use Assessment (Dimensional Format)
Case Management Assessment
Peer Support Assessment
Recovery Coaching Assessment
Treatment Planning
Master Treatment Plan & Review
Case Management Plan
Skill Building (CBRS) Plan
Peer Support Plan
Recovery Coaching Plan
Individual Progress Note
Group Progress Note
Medical/Psychiatric Progress Note
Case Management Progress Note
Peer Support Progress Note
Recovery Coaching Progress Note
Skill Building/CBRS Progress Note
Client Status Report
Collaboration of Care Note
Continuity of Care
Discharge Summary

Never worry about being out-of-date with your clinical documentation again. Updates happen automatically so you’ll always be ready for your next audit. If you have any questions or would like to review this project more in depth, please contact us at 866-543-6646 or email us at

date:  Mar 26, 2019
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Is Low EHR Use in Behavioral Health Hindering Health Integration?

Increased electronic health record (EHR) use among behavioral health providers may encourage the integration of physical and behavioral health, suggests a report issued in January by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).

BPC, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, seeks to create policy solutions to some of the country’s more significant challenges, including those affecting the healthcare industry. The report, “Integrating Clinical and Mental Health: Challenges and Opportunities,” examined how the current U.S. health system separates physical and behavioral health.

By encouraging or requiring mental health providers to use EHRs, policymakers could promote the integration of physical and behavioral healthcare. The authors point out, however, that the report lists policy options as “a starting point for discussion,” not as an official statement from BPC.

Why Health Integration is Important

Providers and payers are becoming more focused on value-based care, which emphasizes improved patient outcomes. However, many different factors may be at play in an individual’s health.

Because of this, health providers often need to get a broader picture of their patient’s status and behaviors. Often this involves better care coordination and information exchange with the patient’s other health providers, including therapists, primary-care providers, and other specialists.

This is where EHR becomes more important. Use of EHR solutions makes it easier for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers to share patient information. This helps each provider get a better picture of the whole patient, their needs, and their health goals and progress.

Barriers to Behavioral Health Integration

The BPC report found three general barriers to the integration of physical and behavioral health:
1. Insurance Coverage of Behavioral Health: Public and private insurance plans offer different coverage of clinical health and mental health services, and often do not offer mental health parity.

2. Behavioral Health Workforce: The shortage of behavioral health and addiction treatment providers restricts access to behavioral and mental health services, which holds back integration.

3. Federal Administration: Government behavioral health agencies and programs have many overlapping responsibilities and services. This lack of coordination or a strategic plan to address these issues has also hindered integration.

How to Improve Behavioral Health Integration

This third barrier, involving federal administration, is where the increased use of EHR can be most effective. Expanded EHR use among behavioral health and addiction treatment providers can encourage information sharing. This can close coverage gaps and reduce redundancies.

BPC’s report notes out that the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, encouraged the use of EHRs among medical providers, but did not include behavioral health providers or substance use disorder treatment. If HITECH funding was made available to behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, this could encourage EHR adoption and the resulting benefits.

Behavioral Health EHR That Promotes Information Sharing

As more behavioral health and addiction treatment providers seek EHR solutions, they may find themselves overwhelmed by the many available options.
BestNotes’ EHR and CRM solutions are developed specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers. The software features help you collaborate and exchange information with those who need it. Contact us today to learn more!

date:  Mar 20, 2019
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How Behavioral Health Providers Can Prepare for the Move to Value-Based Models

Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers have not adapted to value-based payment (VBP) models as rapidly as other specialties. One major reason is because value-based care focuses on patient outcomes, which are difficult to define and measure in behavioral health.

However, as regulators and payers emphasize VBP, behavioral health providers eventually will be expected to make the transition, as well.

What Behavioral Health Providers Should Focus on When Moving to Value-Based Care

While it is challenging to define value and outcomes in behavioral health, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers who attempt it can benefit from potentially higher reimbursement and improved patient outcomes.

Here are some areas to focus on as you seek to make the shift to value-based care in your practice.

Use of data analytics

Value-based care focuses more on patient outcomes than the amount of services provided, encouraging providers to do more with less. Entering, tracking, and analyzing patient data is vital for transitioning to a VBP model. Without the proper data and tools to use it, however, behavioral health providers may find few benefits from VBP.

Because behavioral health conditions and goals are more subjective than other health specialties, clinicians and therapists may not be sure about the kind of patient data to track. This data may include:

Laboratory results
DSM-V and ICD-10 criteria
Patient demographics
Admissions and discharges, including emergency departments

Population Health

As value-based care expands, healthcare decision-makers are increasingly concerned about population health. This requires clinicians to focus on three main goals:

Maintaining patient health
Reducing patient health risks
Providing or coordinating appropriate patient care

Successful population health management combines patient data with health IT solutions. Behavioral health practices should have an electronic health record (EHR) system that lets them collect and analyze data so they can note and correct any care gaps within the patient population. This leads to better outcomes and cost savings.


Interoperability is the ability of different systems or software to communicate and exchange information. This way, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers can more easily share data with a patient’s other providers. This could lead to better coordination of care, more efficient treatment, and thus improved patient outcomes.

Workflow Changes

All of the previously mentioned factors doubtless will involve changes to a practice’s workflow, potentially impacting all staff members. Behavioral health and addiction treatment practices may adopt a new EHR system, change the way they follow up with patients, or train staff to collect additional patient information.

As your practice shifts to value-based care, all clinicians and managers should make sure your employees understand the purposes behind any changes you implement. This will improve staff buy-in and make transitions easier.
The right EHR solution for your behavioral health data needs

A 2018 Quest Diagnostics survey found that 57 percent of health plan executives agreed that clinicians do not have all the tools they need to succeed under VBP. The right EHR system is vital for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers looking to record and track patient data.

Enter and track patient information accurately with BestNotes, a behavioral health EHR solution built specifically for your practice’s needs. Contact us today to ask questions, learn more, or schedule a live demo.

date:  Mar 13, 2019
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