May 15, 2024

10 limitations of your EHR for effective measurement-based care

The movement towards measurement-based care (MBC) in behavioral health provides a proven method of improving patient outcomes through systematic monitoring. Mental health professionals, in their mission to deliver exceptional care, are recognizing that electronic health record (EHR) software, while fundamental, is not fully equipped to support comprehensive MBC strategies. In our continuous dialogue with behavioral health leaders and our EHR partners, it’s evident that a dedicated, scalable, and sophisticated approach is necessary to effectively deliver MBC.

The limitations of EHRs in MBC

Our customer insights reveal attempts to use EHR systems for measurement-based care, with minimal success. EHRs are not inherently designed to cater to the specific needs to successfully administer MBC. They lack the visualization tools, comprehensive assessments throughout the care journey, and specialized support–including precise schedules based on each patient’s treatment plan, all of which are required for advanced patient-centered insights. Here’s how augmenting your EHR with a specialized tool like Owl can lift your organization to the forefront of evidence-based care.

  1. Systematic measure administration

To adhere to the stepped care model and encompass all levels of treatment—e.g., PHP, IOP, to OP settings—measures ought to be administered systematically throughout therapy. This consistency is typically beyond the scope of traditional EHR systems. A measurement-based care tool offers structured progression and tailoring to unique treatment phases.

  1. Library of assessments

With over 350 assessments, Owl equips practitioners to address a wide array of conditions, patient satisfaction queries, therapeutic alliances, and more, including tailored domain bundles —a resource pool that EHRs often do not possess. Moreover, with a system built for system-wide standardization and precision, patients will not be overburdened with assessments that are not applicable to their condition or setting.

  1. Automated scheduling

Personalized automated scheduling of measures throughout a patient’s treatment course aligns MBC with their individual care timeline. This customization is critical to MBC but frequently absent in generic EHR solutions.

  1. Enhanced patient engagement

Owl’s platform extends to any web-enabled device and supports active patient engagement through friendly reminders via text and email—details that make the implementation of MBC not only feasible but also efficient and patient-friendly, leading up to 95% patient engagement rates.

  1. Patient-centric results

Part of effective MBC is collaborative transparency. Owl’s visual patient results are explicitly formatted for session sharing, fostering a key practice of MBC that bolsters patient engagement and comprehension, and also empowers clinicians to make informed decisions regarding care level modifications. It’s a technique absent in standard EHR functions, yet crucial in recognizing and acting upon treatment responses effectively.

  1. Real-time alerts to suicidal ideation

Real-time detection and notification of urgent patient states such as suicidal thoughts or self-harm risks are invaluable to providing exceptional clinical care. Owl also flags critical items for clinicians that require additional attention, but are not immediately life threatening, such as exposure to violence and risky behaviors. Owl’s alert system ensures that providers have the opportunity to respond quickly to maintain the safety and wellbeing of their clients–contrasting the often passive nature of EHRs. 

  1. Patient team data collection

The power to collect outcomes from patients and caregivers alike, like parents in pediatric cases, broadens the scope of data and insights—a feature that specialized tools manage more adeptly than EHRs.

  1. Tracking and reporting

Owl’s reporting tools are meticulously crafted for population health monitoring and offer tailored queries for specific cohorts or treatment outcomes—capabilities that go beyond the general reporting structure of EHRs. For example, properly manage and triage patients to the correct level of care at intake, use comprehensive data to step up or step down levels of care, and have the data to discharge with confidence.  Moreover, understanding the impact of treatments across the entire organization is vital in the age of value-based care. Owl reports provide leadership with advanced analytics, facilitating strategic organizational decision-making.

  1. Data science advantages

Data is the lifeblood of MBC. Owl provides data science prowess, offering detailed analysis of treatment trends, outcomes, and progress benchmarks—essential for a successful MBC framework. In addition, these data provide advanced insights that help organizations better understand all of the factors impacting patient care and improve overall care quality, a key component of VBC.

  1. Expert guidance

Measurement-based care is multifaceted and implementing it can be difficult. Having access to a team of MBC experts can create an optimal program rather than one that is only functional. Owl puts this expert consultation at your fingertips for measure implementation, best practices, and data interpretation.

Indeed, implementing Owl has proven to be a game-changer for many mental health professionals. Kathie Snell, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer at Aurora Mental Health & Recovery, reflects on her experience after exploring a myriad of solutions to collect, report, and track patient outcomes data:

“We tried a number of solutions over the years before Owl. We implemented a system on paper, we have measures in our EHR, but what we lacked was consistency and ease of use as well as ease of oversight of the process.”

Implementing a focused solution like Owl propels mental health practices into the future, championing a measurement-based approach that enriches treatment efficacy and boosts patient satisfaction.

While EHR systems are indispensable, they are not the standalone answer for an in-depth MBC approach. A dedicated, comprehensive solution such as Owl can seamlessly fill the gaps left by EHRs, ensuring that your practice not only meets the modern standards of patient care but also sets a benchmark in precision and effectiveness.

For those poised to lead in mental health services, it’s time to look beyond your EHR and implement a strategy as advanced and meticulous as the care you strive to provide.

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