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

Nobody Likes to Wait

Terry McLeod Updated: Oct 19th 2010

Average wait time from calling a mental health treatment organization for help and actually engaging in treatment with a professional can take a month. A lot of consumers cancel their appointment or just don't show up.

hand pointing at a watchFrom what I've seen, physical health has that beat.

David Lloyd of MTM Consulting shared this statistic recently in a talk on the web focused on improving quality; I found that an amazing amount of time to wait for help...Who would wait that long? According to Lloyd's research, not many folks, and I agree, it's a long time to wait for health, and I know a lot goes on in my mind in a month.

Regardless of whether the consumers who end up not consuming mental health services are classified as No-Shows or cancellations, or somehow justified as exempt from statistics, the fact is that a bundle of folks aren't getting help. A key to getting the folks who are now not showing up for appointments is simple business logic. If we serve them quicker, with high quality service, for a reasonable price, they're more likely to make their appointments. Plus, under these conditions, people improve and tell their friends how great the results of treatment at this particular facility were.

Maintaining quality treatment and delivering it quickly boils down once again to streamlining systems, and the best way I've found to assure streamlining happens is to tailor the Electronic Health Record (EHR) to guide clinicians through the treatment and documentation processes. If a professional has clear signposts along the way, the policies and procedures placed to improve quality and timeliness of treatment are more likely to be adhered to. Here are a few things that can be done with the EHR to increase the value of treatment in the long haul that are statistically proven to reduce no-shows and help consumers get better.

  • Cut time spent on paperwork and redundant entry of consumer data…who likes to answer the same question six times? An effective EHR can save all data that's entered one time, like the patient's name, address, reason for coming, medications, etc, and automatically add it to any form that's shown in a professional's workflow where it's needed; tune up the EHR to do this.
  • Decrease the time a consumer spends waiting for help… Lloyd's statistics show a lot of professionals are very busy with a lot of peripheral activities like catching up on treatment documentation when there are No-Shows; take scheduling out of the professional's control, schedule people to come in NOW…or at least within ten days and No-Shows dwindle.
  • Help the professional! Start Collaborative Documentation now: Involve the consumer in writing assessments, treatment plans and progress notes during the session, with the consumer…it improves focus on treatment goals and objectives and gets the paperwork done on time, reducing a facility's risk of falling out of compliance with state, and federal governments, helps adhere to accreditation rules, and avoids billing audit problems.

I know. That's all well and good, but who has time to do this?

There will never be enough time to do these three simple things. Facilities will need to hire EHR professionals, spending money they don't have. The money will come as No-Shows dwindle. There are tons of statistics out there that show how great a tool the EHR can be, and the solutions above are proven to work nationwide, in a ton of studies over many years (I cite them a lot).

Now is a good time to start improving treatment using the EHR to help.

 

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 terry.mcleod@ehrsio.com and get more information from his website and blog, ehrsio.com/.

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