Using EHR Technology to Support Value-Based Behavioral Healthcare

For quite some time, insurers and healthcare providers have been moving towards a value-based healthcare model, and away from the traditional fee-for-service payment system. In value-based care, providers are incentivized based on the quality of care they provide and the meaningful treatment outcomes used to improve patient care. In the traditional fee-for-service model, practitioners are paid for each particular service rendered, essentially rewarding medical providers for volume and quantity of services provided, regardless of the outcome. The change is meant to give clients the best care possible while at the same time placing an emphasis on utilizing cost-effective treatment solutions. In order to continue shifting the paradigm towards value-based care, electronic health records are becoming more and more important. 

Value-based care for behavioral health is something that has been studied in-depth for a long time, due in part to the increasingly high costs associated with mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. Rewarding providers based on successful client outcomes is a model that benefits everyone. Using an EHR for documentation and clinical support has allowed behavioral health professionals to shift more easily towards value-based care. When value-based care and value-based payment models are combined with powerful EHR technology, mental health practitioners are thoroughly empowered to focus on outcome-based care. 

Performance Assessment

Value-based payment within behavioral healthcare suggests that organizations and professionals reach certain benchmarks over time in order to receive the maximum payment. In order for this payment system to work efficiently, patient data needs to be leveraged and integrated into all relevant initiatives. This requires EHR technology that has the tools to plan and measure outcome-based care, so it’s easier for practitioners to assess their services. Ideally, this would allow therapists to adjust the quality of their services so they can improve the treatment outcomes for their patients. Integrated charting and options to create electronic versions of certified assessments are becoming increasingly more important as the behavioral health industry shifts towards value-based care. Tools that chart treatment goals and objectives that also measure client progress is a valuable asset that provides convenience for clinicians who provide value-based care and utilize value-based payment models.

Access to Behavioral Health History

Managing chronic illnesses should not be limited to physical health care, but should include behavioral health care, too. Access to visitation, medication, and hospitalization data is vital for mental health patients who are not always aware of their clinical history. This can be recorded so that even patients who do not remember being admitted for such things as overdoses and suicide attempts can have their records show their admissions history. This information can then help therapists map what helped and what didn’t with each admission and create an outcomes-based care plan for each patient based on their unique patterns. When treatment centers use EHR technology, behavioral health clients know that the treatment and progress of their chronic conditions are charted accurately and will result in a more meaningful outcome, which is the primary goal of value-based care.

Tracking Outcomes & Quality Improvement

Value-based care aims to deliver more quality care, not a quantity of care. This is achieved by directly rewarding or penalizing healthcare providers based on client outcomes. Consequently, both clinicians and their clients become even more invested in the treatment process and work together to reach an outcome that offers real and lasting results. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to measure treatment outcomes for mental health or substance use disorder (SUD), so using an EHR that integrates with nationally recognized assessment measures to track outcomes, such as ASAM, is essential. By using an EHR that has been designed to track quality improvement and meaningful clinical outcomes, organizations can ensure that their practitioners provide the best possible care to patients. Similarly, implementing a relevant quality improvement process can help therapists use the data recorded in the client’s electronic health record, allowing them to measure the effectiveness of their clinical processes and then adjusting the treatment program as needed.

EHR Technology & Value-Based Care

Besides improving performance, measuring outcomes, and providing easy access to data for both behavioral health professionals and their clients, EHRs can also assist in creating streamlined workflows. Not only does this save time, but it also minimizes the potential for revenue risks that are associated with the value-based payment model. As we move toward a value-based care system, a robust behavioral health-specific EHR will make practitioners and clinicians more efficient, while allowing them to deliver optimal clinical outcomes for their clients.

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