When Decatur Psychological Associates, a Christian counseling practice, was launched in June, 2005, it was a solo endeavor. “The owner invested in an electronic health records (EHR) system that was new to the market but was supposed to be geared specifically to therapists,” says office manager Elizabeth Callison. But the untested EHR had problems almost from the start. “It wasn’t HIPAA compliant, it couldn’t keep up with changes in the field, and very little training was provided,” she says. “We were never were able to get the accounts receivables to balance, either.” As the practice grew—there are now 4 full-time and 2 part-time counselors—Callison says it became evident the system couldn’t continue to support their needs.
The Solution: A Vendor with 15+ Years of EHR Experience
Callison started looking for a new system in early 2006 and within 2 months had identified and fully implemented Compulink’s Psych AdvantageTM. “We had a wonderful trainer who made it a very smooth transition for us,” she says. She has found the system easy to use, even for someone with no EHR experience, and easy to teach to new staff members. “I think the difference was that Compulink taught us how to build everything the right way, so it has always functioned very effectively for us,” she says. “They helped us customize everything so that it would be more efficient and not slow us down.” For example, therapists rarely have to do much typing—they can select everything they need for their notes from drop-down menus.
The Result: More Compliant Documentation, Better Cash Flow, and Reduced Storage Costs
Quick, thorough electronic documentation helps the therapists stay compliant with state, federal, and insurance requirements. With Compulink’s built-in system checks, they also have more accurate claims and fewer rejections. The practice now files all its claims electronically through Compulink, which it couldn’t do with the first system at all. “The combination of electronic filing with fewer rejected claims has helped us improve the speed of reimbursement from 2 months to just 1-2 weeks, which has had a very positive impact on cash flow and revenues,” Callison says.
And in a specialty where HIPAA compliance is critical, Compulink also helps the practice protect patients’ privacy. “Before EHR, the administrative staff could easily see exam notes as we filed them or faxed back and forth to referring doctors—and that’s really not ideal in a counseling practice,” says Callison. “We all feel more comfortable knowing that a therapist’s notes are confidential.” Another real advantage for the practice, she says, is that “Even though we have expanded considerably in size, we haven’t needed to allocate any more space for charts. “We’ve been able to use all our office space for therapy services rather than storage,” she says.
Pearls for Success
Callison advises colleagues to look for a partner that will provide high-quality training and support. “As a former veterinary clinic manager who didn’t have any EHR experience, I can say that Compulink’s training and technical support has been absolutely essential to my success in the practice,” she says. “During implementation I knew I could always call and get any question answered—and more than 4 years later, I still can.”