Four Tips for Providers to Improve their Mental Health Practices

By Ram Krishnan, CEO, Valant
X: @Valant

With demand exploding for behavioral health treatment, and trends in technology and care modalities changing the industry, mental health providers are continually looking for ways to improve and streamline their practices. Prioritizing the following tips can help ensure a successful second half of 2023.

Increase Provider and Staff Productivity with the Right Tools

Behavioral health practices have different documentation, scheduling, and billing needs compared to primary care and other medical specialties. However, the right behavioral health practice management software can help practices create efficient workflows, including field-tested scheduling tools to schedule and manage appointments.

A strong scheduling tool is adaptable for small or large practices, easy for staff to use, and can integrate with a patient portal where patients can select their preferred appointment slot. The scheduler should connect with patient communications tools that call, text, and/or email patients to remind them to schedule or show up for upcoming appointments. This helps clinicians see more patients with less time lost to no-shows, clunky software, and scheduling mishaps.

Prospective patient management is also crucial for mental health practices. Making a good first impression is important, and the right software can help with this. Practices can look for inquiry forms that help prospects become established patients. These should include collecting clinical and insurance information, automated provider-to-patient matching, and actionable reporting for staff to monitor the process. This helps to improve the practice’s efficiency and increase patient volume.

Billing is another important area to focus on for improvements in efficiency and revenue. The right software can help collect and process all the necessary information, collect co-pays, submit and follow up with claims, connect with medical billing clearinghouses, and provide superbills to the patients who need them. This helps patients get the full benefits available to them and avoid unwelcome billing surprises.

Another great place to look is reimbursement rates. In 2023, value-based care (VBC) has become a hot topic. If providers can show that the care their practice provides improves patient outcomes, payors may be willing to pay more per appointment. The right software can help collect the needed data and generate reports that a practice can use to negotiate higher reimbursement rates.

Provide Quality Care with the Right Clinical Care Features

If patients provide clinical history, sign consent forms, and complete behavioral health assessments through an online patient portal – before their appointments, clinicians may be able to see more patients in less time without feeling rushed. The right intake and assessment automation tools and EHR software can support this effort saving time by pre-populating data into clinical notes.

Clinical documentation features are also a key part of improving workflows as a behavioral health practitioner. An EHR should make it easy to integrate data, providers have already collected into documentation for the current visit. Gain efficiencies by ensuring the right CPT codes are consistently in place and decrease risk by separating therapy notes in a protected, confidential area.

Improve Your Mental Health Practice: Increase Patient Retention with Better Patient Engagement

Each patient’s experience is important. In 2023, many patients need flexibility. It’s important to offer telehealth options with secure virtual appointments, virtual group or family appointments, and engaging features, such as chat and whiteboarding. These functions should be integrated into the patient portal, with HIPAA-compliant security maintained throughout the software suite. Focusing on the patient experience – and the right tools to support it – will help improve mental health practices.

Stay Updated with Industry & Market Trends

Whatever the size of the practice, keeping up with behavioral health trends in 2023 and beyond is crucial. Staying on top of patient expectations, regulatory changes, and innovations in healthcare technology can mean the difference between succeeding and lagging behind. It can also have a direct impact on improving patient engagement, which can lead to better outcomes, fewer missed appointments and increased overall patient satisfaction.