Protection of health information is vitally important in the area of mental health care. The biggest reason is the stigma attached.
Confidentiality is critical. However misguided it may be, there is often an element of shame attached which keeps patients from sharing important information with their physician, which can reduce the doctor’s ability to diagnose and offer effective treatment.
Mental healthcare providers are faced with a complicated issue. They must seek a balance between patient confidentiality and the need for communication between all the patient’s doctors, so that there is a coordination of care.
The Risks of Not Coordinating Health Records
There is the possibility that vital information could be missed when all of a patient’s physicians don’t have proper access to their health history.
If a patient has had a previous psychological exam that showed they are at an increased risk for suicide, their primary care physician will need to be careful about the drugs that are prescribed.
The side-effects of some medicines include an increased risk of self-harm. There is also the fact that various medications can aggravate or even cause other medical conditions that would need to be closely monitored by a general practitioner.
Another disadvantage to not allowing a flow of information between practitioners is that the provider is completely dependent on the client and or their family for the health history.
The Benefits of EMRs for the Mental Health Field
Mental health EMR systems are streamlining the process of information-sharing and providing improved outcomes for patients.
Electronic medical record systems are more efficient and make coordinating patient care seamless by providing access to medical records, from primary care physicians to specialists, including those in the mental health category.
As soon as data in entered into the system, it can be accessed by any of the medical professionals that are authorized to treat a particular patient.
The best patient care is comprehensive. EMRs allow doctors to get a look at the whole of a patient’s medical history at once. This allows the providers to make a much more informed care decision for patients.
Considerations for Choosing an EMR System
EMR systems that work well in a mental health practitioner’s office have some specific features:
- The content should include custom protocols for psychological diseases and treatment, including drug treatment. For example, in a facility that houses client appointments, group therapy sessions, and in-patient care, the EMR system should be able to accommodate data from each of these areas.
- The system should be able to capture free text. Mental health professionals frequently take notes as their patients are sharing with them. A system with a feature that acts as a notepad is a plus for those doctors who are used to pen and paper.
- The EMR system chosen should have the ability for information to be shared with other authorized practitioners and medical personnel, in a secure and private manner.
- Choose a system with a flexible set-up. It should suit the unique needs of the facility is being utilized in, while also being consistent with the tools used by other entities.
New technology can be daunting, especially in a field of medicine that so often has a stigma of shame and embarrassment attached. This can keep a practitioner from upgrading their health record keeping systems for fear of a loss of security and privacy that is so vital to their patients.
Today’s EMR systems are safe, secure, and efficient choices for storing and sharing patient health records. It is well worth the time and effort to implement an EMR system into the offices of all mental health providers.
The payoff is stellar patient care, from the general practitioner to the specialist, and anywhere in between.