Dru_W_Info-PicIn the world of healthcare 3.0, this latest generation of the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, everyone is required to have an electronic health record (EHR). The benefits of EHRs are becoming better known: including the potential for higher quality care, improved health outcomes and reduced costs. EHRs should be designed to make it easier for all members of the care team to be better informed and more involved in the care of their consumers. 

But as more EHR vendors enter the market, the landscape feels convoluted and confusing.

“What should I look for in an EHR?”

This question is one which many healthcare providers struggle to answer. While every organization is unique, there is a principal answer for all behavioral/mental health and addictions treatment providers: Find an EHR vendor that sees the world through your eyes.  This means finding a solution that is focused on wellness and recovery, supporting the provider in identifying consumer strengths vs. problems.  The right EHR enables collaboration with a network of providers to address all needs including holistic support systems.

The need for EHRs designed specifically for those suffering from mental health and substance use disorders has never been greater. According to the Kim Foundation, an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans aged 18 and older (or about one in four adults) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.

The most recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that illicit drug use in America has been increasing. In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 and older—or 9.2 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication in the past month (up from 8.3 percent in 2002).

Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers have different treatment models than physical care providers. For example, oftentimes, behavioral health providers offer many different levels of care —from outpatient (including group therapy) to residential or training programs. In behavioral health, clinicians must focus beyond disease management and discrete interventions and help consumers with behavior modification and support structures that help with long-term recovery and wellness.


Further, features like scheduling, billing and coding should be seamless, helping to maximize organizational workflow.  Often in behavioral health, program funding comes from multiple sources, including grants or public funding, which require additional reporting or payment models that typically aren’t required when providing care using a standard fee-for-service model.

The system should be web-based and accessible from any location, making it efficient and effective for field workers/remote case managers. Perhaps most importantly, it has to be easy to learn and easy to use.

When looking for a partner, look for one that not only has the best solution at that moment in terms of feature functionality, but for a vendor that is looking to advance the behavioral/mental health and addictions treatment communities in the future. Health and human services organizations need to find an EHR built for them … one which will ensure they stay 1, 2, 10 steps ahead in this constantly evolving healthcare landscape.