The pandemic has changed the national conversation about mental health in important and permanent ways. One in four adults now say improving their mental health is top of mind. But as more people seek mental healthcare, they want reassurances that the care they find will actually help.
How can mental health professionals validate their treatment and dial-in best practices? By leveraging their existing practice management software and electronic health records systems. Everything a mental healthcare practitioner needs to validate or improve patient care is sitting in their EMR, in the form of patient reported outcome measures (PROMs).
PROMs are meaningful assessments that patients can complete on their own to determine how their wellness, quality of life, or functionality is impacted by their healthcare providers’ treatment plans. They are like the patient records that patients write themselves.
OutcomeMD has created a PROMs system that fully integrates into a provider’s EHR system, turning medical records into a tool for psychiatry and other mental health practices to improve patient care.
And it is engaging. OutcomeMD elevates the collection of patient data into a fitness tracker-like experience that empowers patients in their own wellness journeys. Using their smartphones or other devices, patients complete assessments and keep track of their behavioral healthcare. They can see what is working, validating the provider’s treatment and giving patients ownership of their own health information.
“Our patients find OutcomeMD easy to use and enjoy seeing their progression over time! We have even found that some reach out to us eager to know when they can take their next assessment if we modify their automatic follow-up schedule,” said Dr. Kirsten Thompson founded Founder, CEO, and Supervising Psychiatrist at Remedy.
OutcomeMD also provides invaluable feedback for mental healthcare providers who can use PROMs to validate treatment plans and receive real-time alerts when a patient is contending with substance abuse, depression or other mental health issues that require urgent attention. PROMs also help clinicians assess everything from how well their e-prescribing interventions are working to if telehealth patients are doing better than face-to-face patients, allowing mental health providers to dial-in best practices and improve their patients’ health.
HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based and fully integrated into a providers’ behavioral health EHR software, OutcomeMD’s PROMs solution is making a meaningful difference in patient care, said Dr. Thompson.
Behavioral healthcare providers noted that before integrating OutcomeMD, they thought of their EHR as merely a clinical documentation tool used to streamline workflows. Leveraging PROMs has elevated the electronic health record into a valuable patient care platform.
OutcomeMD also has the potential to improve the provider’s business along with their patients’ health. By giving patients with good outcomes the ability to celebrate their providers on social media or on a clinician’s website, OutcomeMD can also be a powerful marketing tool for mental health providers who provide high-quality care.
“When we launched OutcomeMD, we did not expect behavioral healthcare patients to post about their great outcomes publicly, but time and again, they are doing just that,” said Justin Saliman, M.D., Founder and CEO of OutcomeMD. “Patients are excited by their improvements and are sharing that excitement with peers on social media.”
Dr. Saliman attributes some of this to the way the pandemic has changed the cultural conversation about mental health.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic, compared to one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.
“The pandemic has had a major impact on already stretched specialist mental health services, which received a record 4.3 million referrals during 2021. It’s also resulted in the largest mental health backlog in NHS history with at least 1.4 million people waiting for treatment,” according to Medical News Today.
With more people openly discussing and seeking mental health services, the spotlight is on quality mental healthcare like never before. In fact, providers, patients and employers are now looking to mental health professionals as partners in the whole-person health movement, understanding the vital role mental health plays in the larger healthcare landscape.
For example, research has linked depression and anxiety to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Today, it is more likely that a cardiologist, endocrinologist or oncologist will send patients a mental health referral along with their appointment reminders.
But to whom and how can a doctor make sure a patient receives the help they need? In 1997, 30-50% of patient referrals from primary care to an outpatient behavioral health practice did not make the first appointment. Today, people are less reticent, but many still need encouragement and follow-up. Here, too, OutcomeMD can help by allowing the patient and the referring physician to monitor a person’s mental health progress.
“As a physician, if my patient is getting worse, I am notified and I can call them right away. That’s good patient care,” Dr. Saliman said. “We can keep track of our patients remotely, keep them out of inpatient care, keep them from needing additional services, and keep them healthier with fewer interventions. All because we’re catching things sooner and doing things right the first time.”
The key to all of this potential rests in the EHR, Dr. Saliman said.
“The EHR gathers all the information you need,” he said. “It is a repository for procedures, phenotype information, ICDs, assessments, everything. But on its own, it is meaningless. If your healthcare and mental healthcare providers take that data and correlate it with outcome data, it becomes more meaningful. It is time we leverage data to improve care in a meaningful way.”
|OutcomeMD Blog Team|