March 21, 2024

EMR Systems: What Are They and How Do They Work?

EMR Systems: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Weeding through paperwork, keeping up with billing, and staying on top of referrals – it’s a lot to manage! Software was introduced into the Behavioral Healthcare space to alleviate some of the pain associated with operating a treatment center and to minimize time spent doing day-to-day activities. 

There’s no way around it. The future of behavioral health is data-driven — and you’re ready for a simple, effective system. 

EMR systems are becoming a standard in behavioral healthcare for safely storing medical records. 

Learn how an EMR system works, its benefits, and how they’re not all created equal in this comprehensive guide for behavioral healthcare professionals. 

Table of Contents

What Is an EMR System?

An EMR (electronic medical record) system is a digital database of your client records that follow HIPAA regulations

These software programs allow healthcare practices to …

  • Create
  • Store; and
  • Receive 
  • Analyze

… medical records electronically and are HIPAA-compliant.  

EMRs include client information such as:

  • Medical history
  • Diagnoses
  • Clinical Notes 
  • Assessments
  • Immunizations and vaccines
  • Medications 
  • Lab results
  • And more

Unlike paper records or outdated systems, modern EMR solutions ensure medical records won’t be lost or stolen.

Behavioral healthcare can be complicated. At Ritten, we believe your EMR shouldn’t be. We’re built for the unique complexity of behavioral health. Read what our customers love about working with Ritten and book your free demo today. 

Ritten: An EMR System for the Behavioral Health Sector

At Ritten, we believe in providing you with better behavioral healthcare tools.

EMRs can become a burden for providers, not effectively meeting all your needs. We’ve changed that! 

We offer the features you need, all working together:

  • Easily manage your documentation. 
  • Manage complex schedules with ease.
  • Manage group note-taking and attendance from one screen
  • Maintain compliance 
  • Better understand and monitor client progress and outcomes.
  • Seamlessly order and administer medications.
  • Drive referrals through better communication techniques. 

Ritten makes it easy to migrate your data to ensure a smooth transition from a prior platform. 

Ready to experience the future of digital healthcare? Book your demo today!

What Are the Minimum Functions an EMR System Should Provide?

The Institute of Medicine has identified eight key functions of EMRs:

  1. Health Information and Data

    •  
    Gives rapid access to client information, such as diagnoses, allergies, and medications
  2. Results Management

    •  Simplifies results management to make testing more efficient and improve client care
  3. Order Entry and Management 

    •  
    Allows you to order lab tests, prescription drugs, and medications while maintaining safety and reducing error 
  4. Decision Support

    •  
    Gives reminders and alerts about medication, dosages, drug interactions, and preventative care screenings
    •  Offers software-assisted diagnosis and treatment to reduce errors and improve prevention
  5. Electronic Communication and Connectivity

    •  
    Allows for faster, easier access to client records and shareable data
    •  Enhances client-provider communication and helps clients be more engaged 
  6. Client Support

    •  
    Helps you provide appropriate and timely client education and treatment plans
  7. Administrative Processes

    •  
    Helps you streamline scheduling, billing, and claims management
  8. Reporting and Population Health Management

    •  
    Can draw data from across your system for disease surveillance and reporting

EMR systems eliminate the need for paper charting, improving client care and safety. 

A quality EMR system assists with three things:

  1. Automation
  2. Aggregation; and
  3. Monitoring 

Productivity and efficiency are two of the greatest concerns for any business. You can reduce the amount of task duplication and data entry in your system with automation.

Automating tasks like … 

  • Billing 
  • Invoicing; and
  • Scheduling   

… frees up your time to focus on what matters most — providing quality client care while preventing errors

EMR systems can boost workflow efficiency by:

  • Streamlining billing by leveraging improved coding
  • Facilitating electronic prescriptions
  • Initiating faster orders
  • Enabling swift availability of results and lab reports
  • Duplicating tasks
  • Duplicating data entry
  • Organizing charts and real-time searching; and
  • Automating filing and registration tasks

EMR systems can also help reduce the number of errors made, a common issue with paper or outdated record-keeping.

Electronically documenting medical information enables you to streamline client file reviewing to make accurate and data-driven decisions. Additionally, EMRs make chart notes easy to decipher by digitizing the whole process — preventing costly mistakes.

Data aggregation in healthcare allows you to retrieve relevant data from different parts of the system to produce meaningful reports.

Meaningful reports can help multiple care providers see the bigger picture and coordinate with one another on the best course of treatment. This is especially beneficial in behavioral health.

For example, if you wanted to collect data on all clients with a substance abuse diagnosis, you should be able to develop the appropriate fields you want to collect information on and then generate reports to support your findings. 

Data aggregation also helps you track a client’s data over time to measure progress and make comparisons session over session.

Many healthcare clinicians rely on data aggregation to:

  • Make more accurate predictions
  • Improve finance management
  • Justify insurance payments
  • Monitor health in real-time

The most valuable benefits of data aggregation for healthcare include:

  • Increased value of care and resource optimization
  • Better client outcomes
  • A boost for clinical research; and
  • New products, procedures, and techniques 

With an EMR system’s monitoring tools, you can provide quicker, more accurate treatment. Instead of manually looking over paper charts to discover issues, they are instantly brought to your attention. 

While automation helps reduce the number of errors made, EMR systems will alert you to any error or issue that may arise. 

Most errors happen in moments of tedious transcription. Less paperwork to deal with means less copying of information — which means fewer mistakes. Avoiding these mistakes can ensure better treatment and hassle-free payments.

EMR systems should have the ability to pinpoint missing signatures and assist with routing charts through the appropriate care providers. It is not uncommon for treatment centers to be denied claims or fail audits based on improper signature routing. EMR systems should streamline outstanding tasks for users of the platform.

EMR systems also help you avoid: 

  • Medication mismanagment
  • Forgotten forms within prescribed timelines
  • Handwriting legibility issues; and 
  • Terminology confusion

It’s important to note that EMR systems are not all created equal. 

There are three different subtypes of EMR systems that are used on different operating systems and settings:

  1. Certified EMR System

    •  These meet the high functionality and security requirements set by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
  2. Cloud-Based EMR Systems

    •  This software is stored and maintained off-premise and gives you the ability to access information remotely, without being physically at your office.
  3. ‘Legacy’ EMR Systems

    •  These are EMR systems that have retired but are still maintained to house old data that hasn’t yet been transferred to a new system. This data can be maintained for years and extracted as necessary, but can also come with certain risks


What Is The Best Digital Database System for Behavioral Health

It’s important to understand the unique digital needs of behavioral health. 

It’s not guaranteed that an EMR system will provide everything you need or want in a digital system. 

For example, in its purest form, an EMR system is simply a digital storage of client records. While most EMR systems contain some additional features, such as billing and CRM, many do not offer much more.  In behavioral health, you want to be able to do multiple tasks around those records without needing multiple systems.

Different from pure EMRs, Practice Management Systems (PMS) will allow you to:

  • Store client health records electronically 
  • Handle administrative and business needs
  • Send documents back and forth with clients
  • Engage with prospects
  • Track referrals
  • Report and pull analytics 
  • Track client progress
  • And more 

To successfully run a behavioral health business and effectively help clients, you need the features an EMR system provides to give quality client care AND the features of a PMS to smoothly run your business

But who wants to deal with and learn multiple systems?

We believe the best system for behavioral health is an all-in-one platform to effectively meet the needs of your clients and business. Having all the services you need in one system helps increase productivity and provide better care  — as you move between tasks seamlessly

Book a FREE demo now to see how Ritten can meet your facility’s needs. 

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