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Best Practices for Hospitals Addressing Behavioral Health Platform Integration

Best Practices for Hospitals Addressing Behavioral Health Platform Integration

When health systems work to implement a new platform, not only do they need to ensure new platforms integrate into their current technologies, but they also must get team buy-in and ensure it makes their workflows and systems easier — not more complicated.

For their behavioral health services in particular, many health systems rely on telehealth to help them reach patients. However, not all platforms are created equal and there’s much to consider when choosing which partner or platform to integrate across your organization.

In this blog, we will walk through how hospitals are addressing behavioral health platform integration, important considerations, and the difference a technology-neutral partner can make to daily operations.

For many health systems, customized interfaces are expensive and labor-intensive

In 2017, the American Hospital Association released data on the importance of interoperability in healthcare and how connected, shared health information can help achieve the best possible outcomes.

When looking at barriers to exchange and interoperability in healthcare, they found:

  • 63% of receiving providers lack compatible technology
  • 57% report exchange challenges across different vendor platforms
  • 37% found it difficult to match or identify the correct patient between systems
  • 35% reported exchange with outside systems to be costly
  • 28% said that customized interfaces are expensive and labor intensive

Excellent platform integration means prioritizing patient and provider usability

Hospitals want the patient and provider experience to be seamless, and part of that is ensuring all platforms work together, don’t create extra steps, and maintain security protocols. That’s why it’s important to think through what interoperability looks like and the components related to patient and provider experience.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of these points:

  • Patient experience: Integrating platforms that seamlessly work with an organization’s existing systems creates a better experience for patients. Instead of having to log in to multiple platforms for things like therapy and appointment setting, having everything in one place can help create a more seamless, accessible experience.
  • Provider experience: On the provider side, onboarding behavioral health technology that requires staff training can create a barrier to entry and utilize more of the hospital’s already strained resources and time. For example, if a provider is using Epic for one part of their job and a separate system for note-taking, they will need to learn a new operating system and create new logins.

On-premise systems and cloud-based platforms come with inherent differences and considerations

Another important consideration when looking at implementing new behavioral health technology is the whether the systems require on-premises set-up or operate as a cloud-based platform.

Here are a few key differences and considerations:

  • On-premises system: For on-premises, a company will need to bring in and set up their own servers and the hospital will need to determine if the servers will need to be set-up on their local network. Additionally, there will need to be upkeep and management of on-site equipment.
  • Cloud-based platform: For cloud-based platforms, there are other considerations when it comes to security. For example, will the new system be able to access patient records and their billing system? Additionally, what is the usability like?

With all these considerations in mind, it’s clear there’s a lot hospitals must account for when assessing what platform will best support their telehealth for behavioral health needs.

Technology-neutral partnership means no additional set-up or maintenance

Working with a technology-neutral partner means health systems don’t need to worry about on-site installation or integrating a brand new cloud based solution. Instead, the partner seamlessly integrates into a hospital’s existing technology. Technology-neutral partners can connect health systems with providers, integrate into existing workflows and systems, without additional set-up and maintenance.

Being technology-neutral also means that the telehealth partner is well-versed in a variety of equipment and Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and can more easily troubleshoot challenges.

Ted Bryant, Regional Director of Clinical Operations, Iris Telehealth

We are committed to being technology neutral because we believe that’s how we are able to deliver the best care to our partners’ patients. We have worked with all different types of technology – from the most complex, intuitive, lifelike, robotic cameras to clunky, old monitors. And we can tell you with certainty: no matter what tech you decide to use, it will work.

A technology-neutral telehealth partner removes the requirement to integrate a new EMR system, provide additional technical support, and manage more equipment.

These benefits equate to an easier transition to a long-term telehealth program, cost savings, and increased patient and provider satisfaction.

A supportive partnership that’s technology-neutral removes the pain points of implementation

Implementing a platform requires ongoing technical support and maintenance – which can become a pain point for health systems.

That makes partnership with a supportive telehealth organization an essential piece of the puzzle.
At Iris Telehealth, the support we provide is on-going, helping our own behavioral health providers navigate partner systems, and being there 24/7 for IT support. That way, our providers aren’t utilizing a hospital’s IT team, and the clinicians can have someone to turn to regardless of the time of day.

Adam Monsen, Director of IT Services at Iris Telehealth

When we provide support, we all try to have that same positive attitude, knowing that what we’re doing is bigger than ourselves – it’s the whole realm of psychiatry and patient care. That’s why we always try to provide the best service and never try to complain about anything. Anytime someone comes and gives us any specific problems or tickets, we’re happy to help.

We also provide support through our Clinical Operations Managers (COMs), who are dedicated and work directly with providers. The COMs serve as the first line of support – whether they’re answering charting or EMR questions – our internal team is a lifeline for our clinicians.

Sean Tominey, Vice President of Enterprise Sales

Our COMs ensure providers have a lifeline and someone who can answer their questions, so they’re not overtaxing the hospital’s IT or support teams with questions. Every question our COMs receive is one that the hospital doesn’t have to address via their IT or support teams. Any staff you add creates more work for the hospital, with Iris, we provide capacity without increasing demand.

Next steps with a technology-neutral partner

If you’d like to learn more about Iris and how your organization can get started with a technology-neutral partner, contact us today to learn more.

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