Customer Survey Results: 4 Biggest Challenges Facing Mental Health Organizations

October 27, 2015

Valant takes customer feedback very seriously. Not only is customer feedback key to building long-term, fruitful relationships with clients, it is necessary for understanding how to improve our products and services to best serve the behavioral health industry.

In 2015, Valant conducted a customer survey. The goal was to find out from practice owners, clinicians, and administrative managers what the greatest day-to-day challenges were for their organizations prior to partnering with Valant. Though answers varied, there was an apparent commonality among responses that, aside from a few outlier examples, fell easily into four separate buckets.

The following are 4 Biggest Challenges Facing Mental Health Organizations, listed from lowest to highest response rate.

#4: Culture-Related Challenges

Roughly 10% of customers surveyed stated some sort of culture-related frustration as its biggest challenge. These frustrations ranged from dealing with difficult people (both inside and outside the employ of the behavioral healthcare organization) to the general sense of public indifference regarding the importance of quality care in the behavioral health sector. Can these types of challenges be addressed by software? Surprisingly, yes.

Interpersonal conflicts in the workplace often result from frustration in navigating an unguided process. In the days of paper records, such processes were governed by the almighty SOPs; though even still there would always be a layer of individual interpretation to account for. This resulted in non-standardized data and limited governance. The right EHR can turn a messy workflow into a regimented process by removing many of the areas where human error is possible. Having a controlled framework in place standardizes data entry, improving data quality while eliminating disputes.

Changing the public opinion on the importance of quality behavioral healthcare is a daunting task, to say the least, but it begins by setting the best possible industry precedent. In a way, it’s like renovating the kitchen to boost the sale value of a home. A successful organization will be empowered by the right EHR, maximizing operational efficiency. Ensuring that therapists, psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners, to name a few, can focus on providing the best quality of care undoubtedly leads to better population health outcomes.

#3: Challenges with Administrative Tasks

Close to 20% of respondents mentioned specific administrative tasks as their organization’s largest challenge. This challenge encompassed all manner of functional duties performed by staff, including patient registration, documentation, and filing claims. In some of the organizations interviewed, many of these tasks were even being performed by the care providers themselves. Administrative tasks represent a significant portion of any behavioral health organization’s time – there’s simply no getting around that. While this is an unfortunate reality for most (particularly for solo or smaller practices), it can be managed efficiently with the right software solution.

EHRs with integrated practice management functions can return invaluable time to its users. The software provides automation in many of the most complex areas of administrative workflows, meaning admin staff, care providers, billing specialists – whatever the case may be – can spend more time with tasks that require their specific skill sets, rather than rote or redundant data entry.

#2: Challenges with Regulatory Compliance

Around 30% of customers surveyed replied that keeping up with state or federal regulation was its biggest challenge, and understandably so; the behavioral health care industry is subjected to regular revisions in both state and federal requirements on a constant basis. It often means that organizations must change a form or a workflow when this occurs in order to stay compliant. Depending on what kind of business solution is set up, this might not be a walk in the park.

Though an EHR by itself doesn’t inherently ensure regulatory compliance (in fact, be concerned if your vendor does say this about its products), EHR vendors can work with clients to achieve compliance before any regulatory problems arise. It helps a great deal if the vendor has a strong background in behavioral health care and experience working under regulatory requirements. Having a vendor that can work hand in glove with its clients means caregivers bring more value to their organizations and make stronger contributions to better population health—not spend time managing regulatory audits.

#1: Challenges Collaborating Externally for Billing or Patient Care

The most common survey response (40% of survey respondents) was that collaborating with external resources for billing or care was the biggest organizational challenge. Being the multi-faceted system that behavioral healthcare is, it’s not surprising that the joint cooperation between care providers, billing services, clearing houses, and insurance companies was a major pain point for the customers surveyed.

The best answer again comes in the form of software. The moment when a patient checks in for an appointment to the point where the care provider receives payment is encumbered by forms, requirements, and sensitive time tables – all specific to each one of the organizations required in the process. Without the automation that a software solution can provide, organizations run a strong risk of encountering systematic delays. This results in longer turnaround times for everyone involved.

Valant helps organizations get past the collaborative choke points by offering automation of complex processes through software. Valant streamlines patient processing and claims submission, and provides integration with CMS standards, minimizing return times and administrative headaches.

Drawing Conclusions & Surmounting Challenge

This customer survey was a great opportunity to learn more about industry pain points, both inside and outside clinical workflows. With the valuable knowledge that specialists and care providers are able to share, Valant will continue build and improve in accordance with the behavioral healthcare industry’s present and future needs.

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Last Updated: March 29, 2017