Healthcare Software for Mental Health Agencies

Contents

  1. Funding an Electronic Health Record
  2. Switching to a New EHR
  3. Tips for a Successful EHR Implementation
  4. Proven Savings: Stats of Time and Money Saved
  5. New York State PROS Program

1. How You Can Fund an Electronic Health Record

Tips for Tapping into Grants

Every social service agency struggles with funding, and when applying for grants, it may not always be clear where an Electronic Health Record (EHR) like AWARDS fits in. With creativity and perseverance, you can incorporate an EHR request into more grants than you might think. Whether you’re looking for initial seed money or more support for your agency’s existing initiative, here are some tips shared by agencies in the Foothold community who have been successful in funding their implementation of mental health software.

Diversify Your Funding Sources

While certain grants exist to fund technology initiatives, funding for your EHR can come from many other sources. In your research into websites such as guidestar.org and foundationcenter.org, focus on funders that have supported your type of service in the past. Often, funders like to extend their reach by rotating their grantees and/or areas of focus, so you can search organizations that are similar to yours (in mission, population, or even geographical location) and see which foundations have supported them. If you already receive support for your agency’s program(s) or administrations, it’s worth asking for a little more to help pay for your EHR. It’s sometimes easier to incorporate the need for an EHR when a foundation is already interested in what you do, and even better when you can demonstrate your agency’s potential by using the EHR.

Approach from Every Angle

Different funders list different priorities: some grants focus on improving agency administration, while others intend to drive clinical outcomes. Foothold clients have presented AWARDS as a tool to do both and more. Here’s what they’ve said:

  • AWARDS Improves Program Outcomes: Metrics are crucial to demonstrating the success of an agency. An EHR can track and report on client demographics and data related to services provided over time, and help identify gaps in service or target populations, as well as other areas for quality improvement.
  • AWARDS Supports Administration: Management reports that normally take hours can be produced in a matter of minutes. Features like our Audit Trail hold staff accountable for their daily interaction with clients, while Messages and Alerts promote timely records. With a real-time relational database, mistakes are far less likely to occur. Additionally, executive staff can get a birds-eye view of the agency’s activity anytime — with just a few mouse clicks.

Present the Big Picture

When your documentation is organized and centralized, you can track services more accurately, report more quickly, and free up staff to provide more services. All these benefits work to boost your agency’s chances for success. National foundations such as the UPS Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, and the Commonwealth Fund are just a few examples of grantors that have funded AWARDS under general categories like “nonprofit effectiveness.”

“We were just awarded a federal grant for project expansion from SAMHSA at $500,000/year for five years. The grading we received was “outstanding” in the category of Health Record Management System, which, of course, is due to us using AWARDS.” -Kay Velardo, Agency Administrator, Community Counseling Center of Southern Nevada

2. What to Know About Switching EHRs

For agencies already using an electronic record (EHR), the thought of starting over may seem excruciating. But to move forward in today’s healthcare environment, your agency must have the right tools. After investing so much into a system that isn’t meeting your needs, the biggest question isn’t why to switch systems, but how to switch, safely and effectively.

At Foothold, we’ve been working with providers for more than 14 years to integrate our EHR, AWARDS, into their daily operations. Many of our clients made the switch from another system and can share their experience. See how they’ve answered these frequently asked questions.

Q: What do we do with the data we already have?

“We decided to simply print off hard copies of only those necessary documents for auditing purposes. This was not difficult, since we were not ‘paperless’ with the previous system and many of the documents already existed in hard copy format.”

“We started clean with AWARDS and kept an archive of our old data for compliance purposes. Starting clean assured we knew exactly what data was entered. If we had wanted to import, however, I feel certain Foothold would have walked us through the process to ensure a clean transition.”

Q: How do we get staff to buy in?

“It’s important to have buy-in at all levels of the agency. In our case, we tried to choose the right people to spearhead the change. Having failed miserably in the past, we learned from our mistakes.”

“Make sure the people who will be affected understand how the changes will affect them and their jobs, and why the change is necessary. Rather than presenting this change as ‘Administration says we will do this,’ we presented it as an opportunity to help people do their work more efficiently, freeing them up to provide more interactions with the clients.”

“The implementation is not an IT function, as much as an operations function. So we decided to have our change committee include people who had years of experience in the field who could easily identify and communicate the benefits of the program. We then asked for committee volunteers who would be using the system every day. This has been successful, since the committee members have enthusiasm for AWARDS.”

Q: How do we handle training the staff?

“Foothold training was done in such an effective, professional manner that transitioning to the new system was fairly painless for the clinical staff.”

“Our previous vendor had no real training ability so we were often flying blind when trying to learn the system. Foothold showed us how it should have been done from the beginning…which has helped avoid many of the challenges we encountered with the previous product.”

Q: When will we start seeing results?

“We are still in the process of implementing the system; however, we have seen some benefits with the limited use we have. The system gives reminders when certain things are due, which we see as a huge benefit with the limited use we have. No more missed dates for assessments, meetings, etc. Since our programs are spread across the county, the system also gives our supervisors the ability to easily keep track of the work being done by their direct reports. This has been most helpful, as you can check not only timeliness, but also quality of work from remote areas. This saves us money in the supervisor’s time and in mileage reimbursement that would be incurred if the supervisor had to go to each site to check on these items.”

“After we made the change, we realized we had been fighting with an ineffective system and vendor for years. The technical support, Help Desk, availability of a real person to help us with the transition, were services we had not been accustomed to receiving.” -Stacey W. Denaux, CEO, Crisis Ministries

3. Tips for a Successful EHR Implementation

Here are 5 of the most common things that agencies say and do that help to make the transition to an electronic health record a success.

1. Don’t assign all the responsibility to one person.

Individuals unable or unwilling to delegate find themselves overwhelmed by all the moving parts and decisions that need to be made for each group of users within the agency. And what happens when that person suddenly becomes unavailable or stumbles across a problem? In many cases, the project sinks, taking your investment of time and money down with it.

2. Make sure to get executive support.

The sad fact is that most often, people change their daily processes not because they want to, but because they have to. Every big change is met with some resistance, and only a strong executive mandate will overcome that. When the switch to an electronic system is presented as an agency priority, and reasons for the change are communicated with the staff regularly, implementations run more smoothly and have a higher chance of success.

3. Stay engaged in the process.

The beauty of a relational database is its ability to eliminate duplicate data entry, freeing up time for your staff to serve clients. Every agency is different, so the implementation period allows you to configure your system to meet your agency’s needs from the start. Regular meetings will help your team stay engaged to hash out the details of the system and streamline workflows.

4. Ensure all staff follow the new procedures.

Nobody likes to change the way they do things. Some staff may be tech-phobic, while others simply need to be reminded. It’s critical that any issues along the way be recognized and addressed, so that all staff enters in good data.

5. Communicate with your vendor.

For any change of this scale, it helps to learn from someone who’s done it many times before. Your vendor is your number one resource, partnering with you to help anticipate issues and recognize when things aren’t working correctly. Once you’ve set the project in motion, you’ll need a steady schedule of checkpoints and check-ins to keep it moving.

Nobody wants to fail, and at Foothold, we recognize that adopting an electronic record is a challenging and stressful process, but ultimately, a rewarding one. No one is more committed and prepared to work with you to succeed. Are you up to the challenge?

4. Proven Savings: Stats of Time and Money Saved

Foothold clients report saving an average of 88% and even up to 98% of time on documentation with AWARDS Software for Human Service Providers.

Below is an Executive Summary by our CEO, Marlowe Greenberg, that offers a brief overview of the impact on time and resources observed by AWARDS users.

Stats of Time and Money Saved by Agencies Using AWARDS

The data used for this paper was self-reported by five Foothold clients. Clients selected for review must have been using the software for at least 6 months and the software must be in use by a minimum of 25% of the relevant staff at each agency. The table below follows a simple methodology. Clients were asked to provide the following information for one or two randomly selected external, required reports. Clients were asked for:
  1. the type of program for which the report is issued
  2. the type of reports in question
  3. the number of hours required for report generation prior to using AWARDS at the agency
  4. the number of hours required for report generation now
  5. the frequency of report issuance
Because of the nature of our requests, we asked agencies only for one or two reports as examples of the impact of AWARDS. As a result of this small number of reports, aggregate assertions of time saved become less applicable. Therefore, we have created a calculation called: “Average time saved” which allows the reader to extrapolate the savings offered by AWARDS onto his or her own agency. Average time saved is remarkably consistent across reports and across agencies. It is this average time saved that best represents the impact AWARDS will have on your agency. The average percent of time saved on generating reports is 88%. This represents a significant opportunity for improving agency efficiency. If your agency spends 1000 hours generating all its reports in a year, it will save 880 hours using AWARDS and spend only 120 hours – a savings of 22 weeks.
Our billing process now takes 5 staff hours per month, about 98.2% time savings compared to 288 hours per month on average before AWARDS. For all agencies looking to bill directly for the services they provide, we offer BillingBuilder™, our Build-Your-Own Billing module that allows users to configure billing files for dozens of payers in addition to the direct link to Medicaid and Medicare already built into the software. Your agency’s clinical and programmatic data will flow seamlessly from the AWARDS electronic chart into the proper structure in the billing module. From there, you can use the module to create claims to be paid. With BillingBuilder™, AWARDS establishes a more direct relationship between program services and billing activities. Because both fiscal and program service staff rely on a single system for billing-related information, there are fewer opportunities for errors in communication, and less time and energy is expended on reporting of this information. Furthermore, your Foothold support team will work with you to address the inevitable changes in regulations, ensuring your agency’s continued compliance. Results for your agency include more internal control and greater transparency in the billing process as well as increased success with audits. There is additional support and an additional cost associated with BillingBuilder™. Click here to see how a typical human services agency turned a loss into a $171,000 windfall. Learn about Goodwill’s $22,000 success here.  take less time, but the results are much better due to not having coding errors, rounding errors, or other calculation errors like before. -Ed Carpenter, Mended Reeds

5. New York State PROS Functionality

The Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program is a national model of coordinated care being implemented in New York State by the Office of Mental Health.

40% of all PROS programs use AWARDS software as an easier and more efficient way to track patient data and bill Medicaid. Our PROS functionality includes:

  • Medicaid billing for MSC, Supervised & Supportive Residence, and Day Habilitation programs
  • Res Hab & Day Hab daily data collection sheets, Res Hab sheets connect to progress notes
  • MSC life plans and service plans tie directly into Res Hab & Day Hab plans
  • MSC billable notes include general narrative, consumer satisfaction, health & safety issues and documentation addressed
  • Health assessments, medical providers, medications, hospital visits
  • Complete diet and immunization records
  • Employment & Training job bank, employers, placement and earnings histories

AWARDS helps your organization do business by offering:

  • Standardization of agency data collection & charting procedures
  • More staff accountability through reporting, audit trails & reminders
  • Easier access to your data, accessible from any location at the agency
  • Increased efficiency that allows staff more time to provide services
  • Easy audits using AWARDS’ robust reporting functionality
  • Real-time collaboration across multi-site organizations
  • Standard work flow for all agency employees
  • Safe, secure & HIPAA compliant data storage
  • Certified for Meaningful Use
  • Electronic billing generated directly from services provided
  • Web-based cloud technology eliminates hardware & infrastructure maintenance costs
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