Article | November 18, 2015

The Importance Of Electronic Therapy Notes And Why You Should Be Using Them

Connecting Your Healthcare IT Clients With Their Most Tech-Savvy Users

At Health IT Outcomes, we’ve made it our mission to provide the healthcare industry with expert guidance on technology system selection, integration, project management, and change management. To help achieve this goal, we speak with industry leaders on everything from EHRs to HIEs to HIM, and then share these conversations with you. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Gaby Loria, Market Research Associate with Software Advice, a company that compares therapy notes software.Loria shared with us her thoughts on who should be using therapy notes and why, as well as how to integrate them with EHRs.

Health IT Voices: How are mental and behavioral health clinics currently leveraging therapy notes and what could they be doing better?
Loria: A great deal of mental and behavioral health clinics are using outdated EHRs that don’t do much more beyond digitizing medical documentation. Worse yet, other providers are relying on paper-based records for all their therapy notes and other important forms. The problem with this is tracking health outcomes in a clinic’s patient population becomes a labor-intensive, time-consuming process. Nowadays, EHRs are much better equipped to help clinic administrators monitor patient health outcomes through reporting functionalities that turn information into meaningful insights. Instead of allocating staff time to sort through patient notes for assessing one care quality measurement at a time, the right EHR, especially those with a therapy notes software focus, have the power to automatically generate charts, graphs or reports that identify the provider’s successes and deficiencies alike using a wide variety of metrics.

Health IT Voices: Why should clinics not currently using reporting features consider them?
We’ve been seeing a shift in healthcare towards prioritizing the value of care delivered over the volume of services rendered. Increasingly, provider pay is being tied to this model and it will be more important than ever for clinics to demonstrate their treatments are effective within their patient population. For this reason, it’s important that clinics familiarize themselves with the health IT tools available today, such as electronic progress notes, for generating reports on quality-based performance metrics.

Health IT Voices: What are some other benefits electronic therapy notes offer healthcare providers and why are they useful?
One of the best things about today’s electronic therapy notes is that they’re highly customizable with fields for both structured formats, such as check boxes or drop down menus, and unstructured formats, such as open text fields. Clinicians can figure out what combination of the two types is right for them to save time producing therapy notes without completely changing their clinic’s current workflow. Digitizing the data also enables more efficient ways to generate reports on how individual patients, or groups of patients, are doing with their treatment goals.

Health IT Voices: What should a provider do if they want to make the most of their electronic therapy notes but their current EHR doesn’t have robust or customizable functionalities?
Loria: As a comparison resource for EHR buyers, that’s a situation we hear about frequently. When buyers contact us for consultations on a potential new purchase, we determine whether they are getting an EHR for the first time or replacing an existing system. We recently analyzed a representative selection of these interactions and found 59 percent more buyers are replacing existing EHR software in 2015 compared to 2014. What makes EHR replacement purchases challenging is the sheer number of products and pricing variations in the market. For a comprehensive rundown of EHRs with therapy notes and reporting capabilities, as well as common pricing and deployment models, providers can check out the buyer’s guide tab in our therapy notes software comparison page. Our team of mental and behavioral health software advisors is also available for a quick phone consultation to help clinics determine the best system at their desired price — they can just call (888) 918-2745. With all the options on the market today, we’ve found that providers like getting an objective comparison of products so they can be frank about their needs and what they’re looking to get from an EHR.