Pathways Counseling Center is part of a nonprofit organization that provides educational and enrichment opportunities for at-risk girls in Alameda County, Calif. The center employs 10 staff clinicians, and up to a dozen graduate student interns at any given time.

“As a community mental health agency, we receive grant funding from a number of sources that require us to report data on the number and type of clients served,” says Selene Fabiano, PhD, Staff Clinical Supervisor. “Manually calculating the percentage of our clients who are of a particular ethnicity, age or income group was not a good use of our therapists’ time,” she says. The center’s therapists were also frustrated at the amount of work required to keep up with paper ledgers—something their auditor felt was a potential risk. “As a growing organization, we realized we needed an integrated practice management and EHR system to help us manage our data in a much more sophisticated manner,” Dr. Fabiano says.

The Solution: A Customizable Practice Management Solution with Sophisticated, Flexible Reporting
She evaluated several EHR systems that were geared towards mental health clinicians. But only Compulink’s Psych Advantage™, with its robust demographics and reporting features, was a good match for the center’s needs. “With every system we considered, there were modules that just didn’t apply to us. What appealed to me most about Compulink was the fact that we could completely customize it to improve our productivity, not slow us down,” says Dr. Fabiano. “We could choose our preferred clinical terminology and get rid of the rest.”

Another priority for Pathways was finding a system that was easy to learn and teach. “We have a new group of interns every year, so the fact that they can get up to speed quickly with Compulink’s online courses is a big advantage for us,” she says.

The Result: More Revenue & More Grant Awards
Dr. Fabiano says moving to electronic billing through Compulink has had significant financial ramifications. “Filing e-claims has been very cost effective for us. We get reimbursed much faster and at higher rates than when the therapists were billing manually,” she explains. Therapists often forget that they can bill for treatment planning, she says. “Our EHR screens remind them to bill for all the services they provide, and the reporting I get lets me monitor that they actually are billing correctly. We aren’t losing revenue anymore because I am able to catch mistakes right away, rather than at the end of the year.”

In addition, Dr. Fabiano says she can now easily obtain all the data she needs for funders and for the complex reporting requirements of MediCal, the state’s Medicaid program. “Statistics that used to take days to gather are now available in minutes, eliminating therapists’ wasted time,” she says.

Pearls for Success
Look for a partner with lots of experience. “This was a huge transition for us, but it was clear that Compulink had done it all before. They helped us get organized so that the transition went more smoothly than anticipated,” Dr. Fabiano says. She also recommends that mental health practices resist the urge to skimp on training. “I’m really glad we also invested in on-site training,” says Dr. Fabiano. “The Compulink trainer was much more effectual than I would have been and the hands-on practice with her gave all of us more confidence in using our customized screens effectively.”

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