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KLAS: Behavioral Health EHR Vendors Perform Poorly

The behavioral health EHR market segment has shown poor performance, customers say, citing usability challenges and lackluster customer support.

KLAS reports that behavioral health EHR vendors perform poorly

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- EHR vendors in the behavioral health space demonstrated low performance rates in areas such as customer satisfaction and system updates, according to a new report from KLAS.

The average overall score for these vendors was 70.8 out of 100, placing the segment in the second percentile of all software types.

However, despite insufficient vendor performance, most organizations plan to stay with their behavioral health EHR vendor due to a lack of resources or viable alternatives, KLAS said, indicating that providers may feel as if there are few available options better than what they have already.

Behavioral health issues are an underfunded and underemphasized sector of the healthcare industry, prompting the need for more comprehensive software solutions.

“Untreated behavioral health problems often lead to other, more acute health challenges, increasing the overall cost of care,” KLAS said.

“In this environment, organizations who offer behavioral health services need robust IT solutions that can support their efforts. Additionally, traditional healthcare provider organizations have been expanding their services to cover more of the care continuum, including some aspects of behavioral health.”

For this inaugural report, researchers gathered information from both inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities. KLAS noted that behavioral health organizations’ needs vary greatly depending on the kinds of services they provide, a factor that most likely contributed to low performance scores for vendors.

The highest-rated vendor for both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health organizations was Credible, with an average score of 79.1. The behavioral health-specific vendor was rated highest for its usability and navigable interface, as well as its clear implementation and training package that helps users feel comfortable with the system.

Although Credible performed strongly in many areas, it did not score as well for customer support, receiving a score of 7.2 out of 9. Credible uses a system where customers can submit questions or issues, but some clients reported that they would rather have a live conversation with an individual.

Cerner Millennium Behavioral Health and Cerner Community Behavioral Health were ranked right behind Credible for inpatient and outpatient facilities. Cerner’s Millennium received an overall score of 77.8, with clients praising its strong integration across the health system.

The solution allows providers to see patients’ ED or hospital data, such as allergies or medication information. However, Cerner customers also reported usability challenges with the system’s interface, as well as the inability to trigger certain reminders for providers and staff members.

Cerner’s Community Behavioral Health solution received an overall score of 75.3, with organizations reporting satisfaction with its highly customizable interface and strong ability to meet state reporting requirements.

For outpatient only and private practice vendor solutions, KLAS found that Valant outperformed other software, receiving an overall score of 87.6. Customers said the cloud-based solution is easy to use, and allows providers to log in from anywhere, including on their mobile devices.

Some clients said that someone with experience in the behavioral health space seems to have designed the Valant solution, which significantly contributed to the system’s usability and quality.

While most behavioral health solutions perform better in some areas than others, KLAS found that all solutions are slow to update their systems with new technology.

“No vendor excels at product development today; nearly all interviewed customers say product development is not fast enough or that their vendor has missed deadlines they committed to,” the report said.

Even among solutions that rank highest for product development, including Credible, Cerner, and Netsmart, customers reported that vendors were slow to issue system updates and that vendors oversold their capabilities.

Despite low performance rates, most behavioral health organizations said they plan to stay with their chosen vendor either because they lack the resources to make a change, or because they haven’t found a more comprehensive solution on the market.

As behavioral services are increasingly recognized as an integral part of the healthcare industry, organizations will need more compelling health IT solutions to deliver quality care.   

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