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by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 15, 2017


Unlike a generic electronic medical/health record software solution, electronic medical records (EMRs) for substance abuse treatment centers have unique features and capabilities designed specifically for those involved in addiction rehabilitation facilities. Substance abuse software offer charting templates for managing clinical records related to specific drug and alcohol abuse treatment in addition to other treatment center demands. Also, EMRs for substance abuse centers often have e-prescribing functionality to electronically generate prescriptions and a laboratory request interface to track patient lab results.

This guide aims to help buyers understand the market of substance abuse EMR software. We have listed the advantages of using an EMR solution in running a treatment center. Here’s the list of topics we have covered in this guide:

What Is Substance Abuse EMR Software?
Common Features of Substance Abuse EMR Software
Benefits of Substance Abuse EMR Software

What Is Substance Abuse EMR Software?

Substance abuse EMR software is tailored to the needs of substance abuse and drug rehabilitation facilities. These needs are both operational and functional in nature. Operational needs include office tasks like appointment booking, billing and patient communication. Functional needs include patient charting, e-prescribing and radiology information systems (RIS).

When selecting a substance abuse treatment EMR, consider other features that will improve the clinic’s efficiency and quality of care. For example, if your facility provides group counseling sessions, your EMR should have scheduling and patient records capabilities that can handle multiple patients simultaneously. An inpatient facility will have needs that an outpatient facility does not, and vice versa. Many substance abuse EMRs have a feature that allows collaboration and sharing of clinical data between agencies. In addition to this, financial requirements vary widely in substance abuse centers. So, ensure that the system can support typical payers and billing processes.

Common Features of Substance Abuse EMR Software

Substance abuse workflow management Carry the individual through the entire continuum of care, from first inquiry through admission, treatment, therapies and any medications prescribed, and finally discharge and follow-up/outpatient care.
Notes management for individuals or groups Substance abuse counselors may need to access their old notes quickly to review previous sessions. They may need to access multiple patient records simultaneously, or they may only deal with patients one-on-one. Take your treatment plan into account when considering your EMR.
Substance abuse EMR templates The EMR should facilitate the workflow through templates that are targeted to specific conditions like alcoholism, narcotics, prescription painkillers and infection management.
Sale and/or reimbursement management Some substance abuse treatment centers bill insurance companies, others are funded exclusively through public or private charities, while still others are financed by the patients themselves. Consider your primary funding sources to ensure you get the payment systems you need, not the ones you don’t.

Benefits of Substance Abuse EMR Software

All addiction treatment centers are required to keep a record of all patients and their treatment notes. This increases the volume of paperwork, which makes searching for historical records a monumental task. With an EMR system in place, it becomes easy to search for any particular record.

Here’s how an EMR solution helps address the challenges of a substance abuse treatment center:

Appointment booking: Scheduling patient appointments is, generally, a challenge for any medical practice. Receptionists and booking staff need to be updated on the availability of their practitioners in real time to block slots for patients. Lack of this information can often lead to overbooking, which results in long waiting lines.

An EMR solution provides a real-time patient calendar to the booking staff and helps avoid conflicts. It keeps track of practitioners’ calendars and books appointment only during available times. The calendar gets updated automatically if an appointment is cancelled or when a doctor is unavailable.

Patient records: Patient health records allow practitioners to store patient details like name, age, gender and other demographic information, as well as progress notes, in a single place.

Patient records for substance abuse treatment clinics require special considerations. They need to be compliant with 42 CFR Part 2 standards pertaining to the confidentiality of drug and alcohol abuse treatment. EMR software helps practices meet this compliance standard by providing secure storage and access to patient information. Using a unique record for every patient, practitioners can quickly find and access previous assessment notes and test results.

Patient notes: It is imperative for substance abuse treatment practices to maintain a record of all patient notes during patient encounter and group therapy sessions. An EMR solution simplifies this process by offering a simple interface for recording patient notes. A few solutions offer speech-to-text functionality that further eases the process by eliminating the need for typing notes. With all notes stored in the company database, practitioners can easily access patient notes from previous visits.

Insurance management: The process of insurance claim filing requires that users manually enter data. Furthermore, users need to find accurate International Code of Diseases (ICD) and CPT codes to file insurance claims. An EMR solution helps users manage all documentation and regulatory requirements for insurance filing. Some EMR products also feature UB-04 form support, which is required in hospitals and clinics for submitting claims.

Most products on the market offer code search functionality for ICD and CPT codes so that users can easily find disease and treatment codes by typing in disease names in a search box.

Billing: The process of medical billing requires that users process a large volume of paperwork and documentation. In addition, practitioners billing to Medicaid and third-party insurance companies need to keep track of their claims and payment statuses. As a result, many drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities are hesitant in accepting insurance payments, as it can lead to a loss in revenue opportunity.

With integrated billing functionality, users can generate bills and email them to patients or insurance companies. Solutions also help users track the status of their claims and insurance payments in real time. Some products on the market offer outsourced billing, which means that the entire billing process is managed by the vendor. Substance abuse treatment centers looking to directly accept insurance payments should consider this functionality.

e-Prescribing: e-Prescribing is one of the most popular applications in the substance abuse EMR software market. This functionality allows practitioners to send prescriptions directly from their system to the pharmacy of their patient’s choice. Patients can collect medication by showing their card at the pharmacy.

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