Mental health care issues are far more common than most people realize. Studies show that around one in every five Americans suffers from some mental health issue, whereas about 1 in 20 live with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Still, not many pay attention to them. Although times are changing and people are concerned about their mental health more than ever, there’s still a long way to go.
Handling these illnesses on our own can be very challenging. Addressing and successfully treating these problems require full access to mental health providers and services – things most Americans don’t have access to.
Apart from the social stigma and personal challenges for people seeking mental health treatment, the barriers to delivering the said treatment are quite significant. For instance, many small healthcare centers do not have the resources to manage their operations smoothly, impacting their capabilities to treat patients. This is why it’s a common practice to hire a medical billing company and outsource other services as well.
This article will highlight some of the biggest challenges healthcare providers face and explore how we can overcome them.
Lack of Mental Healthcare Workers and Services
One of the major barriers in most healthcare sectors is the lack of available services caused by the high demand for treatment and the low supply of trained professionals.
Regarding mental health, the ratio of demand and supply worsens. While the U.S. is facing this shortage in every sector, the lack of mental health professionals in the country is far steeper. Statistics show that more than 149 million Americans live in federally designated mental health professionals shortage areas. That is more than half of the population of the whole country!
Rural areas, however, have little to no healthcare providers, let alone specialists. Due to this scarcity, usually, there’s a long waiting list even for a basic treatment. This worsens the patient’s conditions, resulting in fairly medical severe ailments, further pressuring the few healthcare workers available.
While the government makes efforts to offer funds for mental health care, available resources in some parts of the country are severely lacking. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, 55 percent of U.S. counties, all of which are rural, do not have a practicing psychiatrist, psychologists, or social workers”, states the U.S. News & World Report. The lack of financial resources means inconsistent treatment for the patient and direct and indirect increment of workload on healthcare workers, especially if a serious illness requires regular therapy sessions, complication medication management, and other intensive treatment plans.
The unique workflow concepts and records that are common within mental healthcare do not exist elsewhere. For instance, private and group therapy requires a specific type of documentation. Similarly, residential and partial hospitals have unique documentation and billing requirements. These documents must be tied back to the patient and his treatment plans. Then, there are administrative and management tasks as well. Medical billing outsourcing is one solution, but it needs more than that.
Aggregating and combining so much data on a daily basis, especially with a lack of standardization and I.T. workers, can expose providers to inefficiencies in operations. Not only will they need to catch up in storing medical information and getting paid timely, but they also exponentially increase the cost of care for a patient due to the fragmented view of medical information.
Usability Challenges of the EHR
Compared to other sectors in healthcare, psychiatry is unique, and so are its needs. One of them includes the need for a specialty-specific psychiatry EHR. An electronic health record, also known as an EHR, is a digital track record that includes features about patient data sharing, monitoring care and medications and providing patient engagement features. Finding the perfect fit is often challenging because the software’s features vary widely and can be altered depending on your client’s needs.
Sometimes, the EHR doesn’t integrate well with other data systems, causing them to be disorganized. For EHR information-sharing to work seamlessly, the healthcarMental healthe systems must communicate efficiently and timely, wherever and whenever needed. Miscommunication and late recordation of data can result in sloppy, adjoined reports and scattered data, causing further difficulty in putting their EHR systems to optimal use. Additionally, it deteriorates the standard of patient care, efficiency, and revenue.
Lack of Clinical Safety
Confidentiality is particularly important when it comes to mental healthcare. Often, it gets challenging for providers when certain EHRs don’t support confidentiality. Often people receiving intensive treatments face patient safety issues. The lack of awareness about such issues among healthcare workers as well as patients further adds to the problem. Where patient confidentiality requires documentation through separate channels and billing systems, it makes care coordination more difficult for healthcare workers.
Taking Steps Towards Solving Them
While these barriers may seem disheartening and troublesome, understanding how and why they affect different organizations and individuals is crucial. Spending time understanding what prevents effective mental healthcare is the first step towards improving with better strategies and policies.
To counter the lack of adequate resources and workers in the mental healthcare sector, providers can seek outside help by outsourcing the non-core part of the job. Functions like medical billing, data entry, records transcription, receivables management, and even minor clinical operations can be assigned to external organizations. For example, using a qualified medical billing company can take a load of intensive data entry and record keeping off of the H.R. personnel. Additionally, it minimizes costs, speeds up task completion, and streamlines operations to improve overall efficiency and patient care.