18 May 2017 RB Marketing Series

EMR Spells the Future of the Addiction Treatment Industry

Michael McAlpin
Michael McAlpin
CEO & Co-Founder, Alleva

Our world is changing. The growth of those suffering with addiction is on the rise while increased regulation, lower margins, and tougher reimbursement requirements are forcing therapists and clinicians to use terms like “return on investment” or “cost benefit.” Due to enhanced insurance oversight, addiction treatment and behavioral health centers are obligated to change the way they care for patients.

The changing landscape of the addiction treatment industry is not unlike the changes the medical health field has witnessed over the past ten years. Medical health providers paved a rutted path for us as they navigated digitized documents and rigorous oversight. Now, the addiction treatment industry is beginning to enter the insurance companies’ world of meticulous documentation, requiring our nurses, therapists, and clinicians to get back to the mantra they learned in school: “if it’s not documented, then it did not happen.” Insurance companies are holding us to those words. Our “programs” are no longer as important as the “daily program hours,” and treatment professionals are spending long hours completing notes in order to keep up with regulatory and billing requirements.

The solution for the mounting paperwork? Electronic medical records (EMRs).

Many EMRs simply meet the regulatory or billing requirements and can save you time finding documents — but do they truly serve to enable your business?

The right technology can bring a new world of efficiency and collaboration while still meeting regulatory and billing requirements. The right technology can engage your patients during care, provide mobility, and real-time access to notes. The right technology can alert you to missed compliance items, patients in distress, and even patients who refuse medications. A system that engages patients during the treatment process can continue a relationship post-treatment, allowing clinicians and therapists to deliver treatment-outcome metrics and assist when an alumni are in distress.

If your treatment center is on paper today, almost any software will significantly benefit your operations and provide cost savings. However, EMR software has the ability to go beyond electronic documentation to enable growth, communications, and patient relations for improved outcomes. To find a potential software provider that exceeds the fundamentals, consider these five sets of questions:

  1. Mobility: Can I take notes on my cell phone? Can I use a dictation feature to transcribe my spoken notes? Can I use any phone to complete note-taking tasks
  2. Alerting: Will I receive alerts when patients miss scheduled therapy or groups or when daily programming requirements are not met? Will I receive notifications when medications are refused?
  3. Client and family engagement: Does the software engage with the client by sending HIPAA-compliant alerts and texts? Is there a patient-facing app available for the client to engage with the treatment plan?
  4. Collaboration: Can I share notes or information with other system users? Will I be alerted when another system user receives information I compile?
  5. Fully rounded systems: Can I manage my referral sources? Can I engage with alumni and track the recovery outcomes of my alumni? Can I deliver video therapy or virtual care through the software system?

These questions should accompany the questions you would typically ask about uptime, system reliability and HIPAA compliance. By expecting more from your EMR partner and choosing the right technology the first time, you’ll be able to evolve and improve your business practices with a software partner who has an eye on the future.

Does your software provider successfully integrate your staff’s workflows and priorities into its systems? Share your experiences with EMR systems in the comments below and learn more about Alleva by visiting their website here.


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