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Terry McLeod of ehrSIO ProjectsehrSIO Projects
A blog about the technical and software sides of mental health and addictions

Better Business and Treatment with the EHR

Terry McLeod Updated: Sep 21st 2010

When the business of treatment gets better with the use of the Electronic Health Record (EHR), consumers get better.

prescription bottlesThese days, ePrescribing sends a prescription directly from the prescriber to our pharmacies. Mistakes made in simple medication prescriptions have been more commonplace in the past than we would like to admit, and ePrescribing is sending legible prescriptions to pharmacists, which can only help reduce mistakes. Another benefit of ePrescribing is the incredible storehouse of data that is building nationwide and can be used in studies to improve professionals' treatment of consumers.

Due to recent studies of suicide and suicide prevention, we know more about it than we ever have. A recent post from Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, quotes statistics gathered from a study of data (mostly gathered and analyzed by computers). Out of 100,000 deaths, 11 are suicide related. Out of 100 people you see walking down the street, one of them has been serious enough about suicide to have a plan. Knowing the depth of the problem is the first step in digging our way out of it.

Medications like Cozapine and Lithium have been proven effective in suicide prevention for specific target groups. Statistics that lead to conclusions of their effectiveness are naturally gathered in the EHR and analyzed on computers. As ePrescribing becomes more widespread, studies like this will become easier to perform, and results will be delivered to the medical community faster.

My peers on Mental Help Net talk about therapies like dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. Studies show these therapies are effective in significantly reducing repeat attempts at suicide. Because of the data gathered from the studies, psychotherapy like this is increasing in usage.

If you are a consumer and worried about your name being associated as a subject in a study, please, don't worry. For many years, "de-identified data" has been the source of studies like this…Once again, a little magic provided by the computers of those providing the data from their EHR. Consumers' personal information never makes it out of the original databases used for the studies.

As new medications are developed and delivered through ePrescribing, more data will become available on the suicide prevention and the effectiveness of these drugs…faster. If mental health professionals know about a consumer's suicidal thoughts and ideation, medications can be further prescribed, and evidence of their effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) will climb.

New assessments, usually delivered on the computer, deliver scores indicating the likelihood somebody will entertain suicide. These assessments lead to use of new psychotherapy methods in treatment to prevent suicide.

Once again, the EHR does its part.


Terry McLeod

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a required part of our society, and improving business workflows with the EHR is imperative for the survival of your local mental health and addictions treatment clinics. Terry McLeod provides the bridge between the mental health and addictions professional and the technical world, as well as the glue to keep it working. Contact McLeod at and get more information from his website and blog,

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