Electronic Health Records: Celerity
It's amazing how much information you can get about a business without talking with anybody there.
The reviews for the purpose of this blog skim the surface for professionals interested in purchasing an electronic record for their consumers' records, and to satisfy some curiosity of some consumers. Some Electronic Health Records (EHR) are appropriate for organizations, some have solo practitioner applications, and all of them claim they work for behavioral health.
Celerity's CAM product is an ASP, or Application Service Provider setup that's delivered over a secure internet connection meeting mandated consumer confidentiality requirements. I particularly like this approach to information technology because it eliminates the need to buy a fileserver and a bunch of expensive equipment up front and pay somebody to maintain it…and servers do need maintenance. And speaking of maintenance, whenever a professional buys software, it's usually required that an annual maintenance fee is forthcoming to the vendor. With an ASP, work you'd need to do yourself in spite of the software support, is usually done by the vendor. I like it when the vendor is responsible for updating the software when new federal requirements come out or new features come available with an update. Celerity's far from the only company that offers this option, and it's just one of the things to be aware of if you reach out to the company to investigate the CAM EHR.
There are two major suggestions in the industry about functionality that improves organizing the treatment a professional provides. First, if you work in an organization with multiple professionals, a central scheduling module is a great way to help the professionals stay busy when appointments cancel and time slots need to be filled. Celerity talks quite about this, and their EHR includes nifty features like color coding appointments so certain items jump out at you when you bring them to the screen.
EHR software that's been updated to current technology generally has features you see when you visit internet sites, like when you buy airline tickets or something off amazon.com. This includes the ability to enter information one time and have it pop up somewhere else to fill in other forms on the screen. For the EHR this means that when an assessment, note or other document is written, it can pull previously entered information that's required to meet the ever-expanding barrage of rules and regulations for documentation automatically. Usually this requires a rule-based system that assures the software electronically inspects to certain documents to make sure data has been entered and then grab it. Cautionary notes include a careful review of exactly what data is moved from one form to another, because person-centered care dictates original writing…professionals need to avoid cookie cutter documents. Also, if I were shopping, I'd ask Celerity to show me all the documents I'm likely to use and if they need modification to work in a professional's business I'd want to know who's responsible to do the modification and how much time and money changes like this would involve.
Billing is a big deal, simply because it's so doggoned hard to jump through all the hoops to get paid by the insurance company. CAM brags about their billing module, and I'd recommend investigating this completely before buying, and ask Celerity to help set expectations regarding when the checks would start rolling in…sometimes setting this up is arduous, and the operation of the billing system requires a specialized professional.
Insurance billing often requires pre-authorization or services rendered, and that means somebody has to contact the insurance company directly. Once that's done, the authorized services and dates the insurance can be charged need to be easily accessible. CAM appears to have that information easily accessible and color coded for easy review.
Another concern for professional organizations is being able to use information that's stored in the EHR. Once a consumer has been served by a professional, there's a hope that some good will come of it. Assessments can be used as measurement tools to assure a consumer is getting better, not worse. Access to notes from previous sessions and treatment plans on the computer during a session help the consumer and professional review what's been done in a session, and to measure progress in treatment. Another important aspect of an EHR is reports. Reports can keep a business on track, provide a means to measure effectiveness of treatment for multiple consumers and generally help a professional do his job better. Celerity says they have a "robust report writer". If I were purchasing an EHR, I'd want to know whether I could use that report writer or not; in short, how complicated is it? The only way I know to determine that is to use it, which is entirely possible in a web presentation.
Celerity is doing business in 28 states, which is important simply because they have been challenged to meet state-specific rules and regulations. If you're interested in Celerity, make sure there are folks in your state using the product successfully. About the only way I know to do that is to get a report card from a half-dozen professionals using the system. I like to try to poll customer satisfaction in several areas, like billing, clinical, and administrative functionality. Separate references from different organizations are a really good thing.