Much like the broader medical software space, mental health practices require a variety of software systems to help manage administrative tasks as well as speed up, secure and manage processes related to patient care.
Mental and/or behavioral health practices have more specialized needs for their medical software than other types of practices. This means mental health professionals have to add specialty-specific requirements to their list of considerations when searching for new or replacement systems.
To help provide a clearer understanding of what mental health software is and what the unique considerations for buyers are, we've created this buyer's guide. In it, we'll cover the following topics:
Mental health software is not actually a type of software, but rather it refers to a number of different software systems that are related to and specialized for behavioral health professionals. Some of the most widely-used software systems for mental health practices include:
Users typically have the option of purchasing a larger practice management suite with a number of these common applications included or investing in individual, standalone systems that may offer more robust capabilities.
|Electronic health records (EHR)||Helps users to create and securely store digital patient records. EHRs that are specific to mental health practices will also include features like charting templates for evaluation and automated E/M coding as well as e-prescription and lab integrations.|
|Medical billing||Makes coding and collecting payments significantly easier with features such as patient statement generators, coding assistance, claims scrubbing, eligibility inquiry and reporting. Mental health billing systems will often specialize in ICD-10 billing and coding.|
|Patient scheduling||Automates many of the processes related to scheduling, such as sending out text message/email/phone reminders of upcoming appointments and follow-up inquiries or surveys.|
|Practice management||Bundles a few different systems necessary for running a mental health practice. Systems often included in practice management suites are: EHRs, billing, scheduling, accounting, practice analytics, reporting, etc.|
|Patient portal||Creates a single, secure interface where patients can submit paperwork and payments, view lab results and communicate with therapists via secure messages.|
|Telemedicine||Helps therapists and patients to connect remotely. Video conferencing is one of the most popular telemedicine applications. helping physicians meet with customers face-to-face for sessions without either having to leave their office or home.|
Our medical advisors speak to hundreds of medical professionals each day to discuss their software needs. Here are the most common reasons our callers give for needing mental health software.
Opening a new practice. Many times, we hear from medical professionals who haven't opened their practice yet, but who want to have their systems in place before opening their doors. Depending on their needs and budgets, these therapists may want to start off with standalone systems that will allow them to grow as they acquire more patients.
Transitioning from paper charts to EHRs. It's not uncommon for us to hear complaints from callers who are drowning in paperwork and interested in the benefits of electronic records. By making the switch, practitioners are able to improve office efficiency, keep more detailed records and reduce errors.
Updating systems and technology. Thanks to constant updates and new features being added to mental health software systems, we find that many of our callers have outgrown their existing systems and are looking for more modern options.
Looking for an integrated solution. Many practices that started out with independent or best-of-breed systems find that, over time, they outgrow those disparate systems and need to look for a single, integrated software suite. These larger systems unify the different mental health softwares such as EHR, scheduling, billing and practice management, to make them all easier to access.
Adhering to federal standards. After the HITECH Act of 2009, medical professionals were expected to adopt electronic record-keeping methods and demonstrate “meaningful use" of those systems. Practitioners who are not currently using EHRs are likely seeing penalties in the form on decreased reimbursements, which could be corrected by switching to ONC-ATCB certified EHRs.
Mental health professionals who use software tools get to enjoy the same benefits as general practitioners who use EHRs, scheduling systems and other medical software. However, when therapists use those mental health-specific systems, they see additional advantages, for example:
Overall, using software that is tailored to your own unique needs will increase productivity and efficiency within your office as well as improve patient care by allowing you to offer more tailored and thorough treatments.
So now that you have a better understanding of what differentiates mental health software tools from broader medical software, you can better assess your options.
The first step, regardless of what type of buyer you are, will be to identify which tools you need for your practice. For example:
This guide can help you figure out where your practice is and what technology you should invest in.
Step two will be to work out your budget. A good starting point for this process is to list out the features you really need and—in a separate list—those that you really want.
Knowing the difference will help you better determine what you can afford when it comes to pricing out integrations. Check out this pricing guide to learn more about how much mental health EHRs cost.
Finally, call or chat with our team of expert advisors to discuss your practice's needs and have them identify a short list of products that offer exactly what you're looking for.
Our service is simple and 100% free to customers like you because software vendors pay us when we connect them with quality leads. You save time and get great advice. Vendors get great referrals. It's a win for everyone!