Cara Farooque is practice manager of Craft Behavioral Health in Northeast Florida. The provider of outpatient psychiatric and therapy services employs, in addition to Farooque, one full-time psychiatrist, five part-time psychotherapists and two front-desk staff to care for a highly variable rate of patients. “Our therapists set their own schedule,” Farooque explains, “so some days there are four of them on site in addition to the MD; other times, it is just one. Many of our patients are dependent on public transportation, so weather also has a large impact on our no-show rate. The beginning of the month, when everyone who gets paid on a monthly basis receives their paychecks, is generally quite a bit more busy than the end.”
The practice has spent the last year backing up all of its paper charts and transitioning to Kareo’s EHR and billing platform. “Our clinicians seem pleased so far,” Farooque says, “and the crossover between EHR and billing is seamless. One of our major focuses now is making sure that all patients have follow-up care and remember their follow-up appointments. Culturally, this is sometimes a challenge, as things exist in a ‘here and now’ context rather than in a ‘week from now.’ The automated follow up emails, texts, and calls have made a huge impact on our no-show rate.”
When it comes to federal programs, CBH is in the process of transitioning from Meaningful Use to the Quality Payment Program. Quality measures have already been implemented, as well as some of Advancing Care Information and Improvement activities. A full roll out/transition is expected by April 15.
How has healthcare technology helped to improve patient access and outcomes since the practice launched in 2010?
I am encouraged just by the QPP measures versus the MU Standards. The QPP measures are actually selected by us, and have meaning to us and our practice. Patients can access selected portions of their charts through the patient portal. The reminders have helped improve our no-show rate and helped patients stay compliant with their medication.
Are you encouraged by the increased focus the industry seems to be placing on using health IT to better integrate primary and mental healthcare?
Currently, the industry is focusing on primary care and preventative medicine. With the new leadership and the proposed changes, I’m afraid we may see some drastic changes and people who finally got coverage as a result of ACA are going to be right back where they were before – underserved and uncovered.
What challenges do mental health providers face when it comes to finding and adopting healthcare technology?
Always vetting the security. What exactly does “HIPAA compliant” mean? I read an article recently that basically said “HIPAA Compliant” wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Everyone claims they’re HIPAA compliant yet no one has a standard definition for it yet.
What advice can you offer other mental health practices when it comes to selecting and implementing healthcare technology?
Do your research, check with other providers, get what you need. Don’t think that because it is a standard EHR it can’t be tailored to fit a mental health practice. It is actually the best that way – you can either develop your own templates or work with the vendor to develop templates to suit your practice. Make sure they meet all documentation guidelines, and then the templates are uniquely yours.
What’s next up on your health IT shopping list? How do you hope that this will benefit your patients and staff?
I would love to upgrade all the computers, with all the scanning, eligibility checks, etc. If they don’t empty their cache several times they need to re-start. Upgrading everything from Win8 to 10. I think the facial recognition and fingerprint scanner would really give us another layer of security on both the patient and staff check-ins. Tablets – I would really like to go totally paperless for increased efficiency, as the form would upload straight into the EHR and we wouldn’t have any paper floating around as a potential HIPAA violation. That’s my wish list.