Mental Health EMR Development: How to Create Behavioral Health Software
In this article, we’ll talk about the purpose, features, and benefits of mental health electronic records software. We’ll also learn how to build a custom behavioral EHR system from scratch so you can implement it into your clinical practice.
|📕 This article contains expert advice from TATEEDA GLOBAL’s software developers. We have vast experience in building HIPAA-compliant and HL7 solutions for American healthcare providers.|
😷 With the spread of COVID-19, the idea of building tele-behavioral health software (or telepsychiatry software) for remote patient supervision became a vital need for mental health clinics in the United States and worldwide.
Why is this so important for modern public health?
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Americans are currently going through a period of psychological devastation and hardship that is reflected in clinical statistics…
📈 According to recent data (September 2021), over 30% of American adults report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Earlier (pre-COVID) surveys suggested that the same indicator was less than 10% (2019).
It’s safe to assume that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the national lockdown and other economic and social issues, has contributed heavily to the tripling of this number in less than two years.
Another angle of the problem concerns medical employees at the forefront of the pandemic who are prone to healthcare staff post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Other studies suggest that patients who already had some form of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness experienced worsening of their condition(s) due to forced social isolation during the lockdown period.
👩⚕️💻 All of these factors highlight a growing demand for Behavioral Health Software (BHS). This is a general term that encompasses a number of diverse instruments and includes behavioral health EHR adoption.
Since mental health clinics, charity organizations, and boutique mental health practitioners (private psychologists and psychiatrists) require an instrument that enables them to help a greater number of patients, the BHS model also includes telehealth tools to reach patients who need consultation and mental health facilitation in social isolation.
Those remote patients include people who have acquired psychological issues and trauma as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis.
So, why create behavioral EMR software—and how does it generally work? Let’s learn more about this type of telemedicine software…
Table of Contents
What Are the Benefits of Custom Psychiatry EHR/EMR Software?
At TATEEDA GLOBAL, we know how EHR and EMR systems are created for American healthcare providers. That’s why we’d like to share our expertise with you.
If you want to learn more about our projects, please check out our portfolio →
So, let’s start with a few quick facts about BHS and behavioral health EMR software development…
📱🖥️ Platforms: A mental health EMR system (mental health electronic medical records) or other BHS can come as an installable client-server application, including mobile and desktop applications, a web-based solution, or sometimes as a combination of several platforms.
✔️ Purpose: BHS is employed by mental health specialists to help treat, supervise and manage a broad spectrum of patients—usually people with symptoms of depression, anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues. This type of software works equally well for patients with disorders that can be treated and controlled in outpatient modality, and for other mental conditions that require inpatient care.
🚂 Modularity: Psychotherapeutic data-management software can be developed as an integral application (which takes more time and effort), but it can also be designed as a seamlessly amalgamated conglomerate of separate modules or products with different functions. The latter option promises greater solution scalability in the future (via API-based and other types of system integration).
For example, a system can be constructed of the following components:
- Access portals and/or mobile apps with authorization options
- A database for patient profile management and medical file storage
- Communication and synchronization with other healthcare applications
- A telehealth application for online voice/video conversation
- Electronic forms for data collection and interpretation.
The software design approach depends on the engineering process and your specific goals, but it’s advisable to keep the code readable and manageable for further potential integration and development. Read more here: The Fundamental Principles of Good Software Design.
Your custom mental health EHR solution can include the following functions and features:
- constant connection between clinicians and patients via telehealth features
- a transparent, easily-trackable patient treatment process
- tracking of changes or progress in patient moods, symptoms, and behaviors
- collection and storage of patient records, including lab tests and prescriptions
- allows psychiatrists/psychologists to manage personal/group appointments
- psychotherapeutic online session-scheduling and management
- patient surveys and medical questionnaires
- access to billing, insurance management, and mental health analytics.
This list goes on and on. The specific features of your custom mental health system depend on your business model and goals, but the main purpose of any mental health management system is:
To provide integrated system capabilities that empower mental healthcare professionals to treat a greater number of patients in less time…and do so more efficiently.
There are a number of advantages to building a custom mental health EHR system vs. any of the readymade EMR software solutions that can be found out there today…
|Custom Behavioral EMR System||Readymade Behavioral EMR System|
|Contains only features and modules preferred by a specific business model and individualized mental health practitioner goals.||Can contain a number of unused or excessive features. Lacks certain functionalities.|
|Contains only safe code. All bugs and problems are swiftly resolved by the vendors responsible for development.||Can contain unpredictable issues and bugs that will not be swiftly resolved by vendors. You’ll have to wait for a new software patch or update.|
|You personally know the developers behind the solution, and you’re sure that there are no code exploits or other critical data security problems contained within.||Can contain some intentionally or unintentionally placed drawbacks that might lead to data leaks, theft, or other PHI violations.|
|HIPAA compliance is guaranteed.||HIPAA compliance can be a concern.|
|Belongs to you, and is always under your control.||Is hosted by remote vendors, and is available on a subscription basis only. If the subscription expires, your access is limited.|
We’ll discuss some of the most popular features in the next section. Meanwhile, it’s important to note that the general benefits of custom behavioral health EMR solutions are always pretty similar…
Benefit #1: Reduced personal contact and interactions
In the time of COVID-19, it’s highly recommended to reduce personal visits and face-to-face interactions between patients and clinicians.
For mental health issues that don’t require inpatient care, it’s possible to organize medical appointments in the telehealth modality, including psychotherapeutic sessions conducted via teleconferencing software. Practitioners can also offer electronic forms for patient surveys, diagnostics, feedback, and other medical data-capture purposes.
All patient-related data objects, appointments, and protected communications can be arranged and interconnected with behavioral health EMR software, so users on both sides (patients and clinical representatives) can enjoy a smooth user experience without the need for additional software.
Benefit #2: Enhanced capability for preventive mental healthcare
Behavioral EHR/EMR systems help capture, organize, and analyze patient data. With sufficient medical records at hand, mental health professionals can identify patterns, correlations, and/or trends in patient behaviors and symptoms. This provides a profound background for deeper scientific research and helpful medical conclusions.
With that said, psychologists and other mental health specialists can use data insights generated with the help of mental health management systems to predict possible issues and/or aggravation of symptoms in their patients, applying preventive therapy measures when required.
Benefit #3: Better mental health therapy outcomes
With all medical data concentrated and analyzed within a mental health EHR or EMR system, physicians and psychologists can easily track and discover which therapeutic methods and medications have proved more or less efficient with specific patients and adjust treatment scenarios accordingly.
Long-term observation of patient data and all insights at medical staff’s fingertips provides psychotherapists with new and amazing opportunities for highly accurate and personalized mental health services.
The 10 Core Features for Behavioral Health Record Software
Before building a custom mental health EMR solution or BHS, it’s necessary to choose the modules and functionalities to be included. Let’s consider some of the features that are potentially beneficial for electronic medical record software in any mental health practice.
Mental Patient Observation Log
With a patient observation log feature, authorized mental health specialists can easily access lifetime history of patient treatment and access all the necessary details, including anamnesis, previous prescriptions, treatment outcomes, allergic reactions, and patient tests.
This is a very convenient approach that helps clinicians radically minimize volumes of paperwork, save a lot of time, and build better relationships with their patients.
Telemedicine (Telepsychiatry) Solution
Modern technologies and devices, including web cameras, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, allow mental health professionals to connect with their patients immediately and schedule online psychotherapeutic meetings or sessions at any convenient time. They allow healthcare providers to efficiently provide additional psychological consulting and assistance, if requested by the patient.
Audio and video conferencing can be built into a mental health EMR solution and interconnected with other modules like access portals, patient profiles, appointment scheduling systems, patient billing modules, and other components.
Periodic Patient Quizzes and Surveys
It’s crucial to regularly control mental health symptoms via patient self-estimation and reporting, sometimes daily. For many mental health patients treated in the outpatient regime, it’s nearly impossible to visit clinics frequently to complete surveys, especially as COVID-induced limitations are again taking effect in some locations.
Thanks to modern technology, patients don’t have to leave their homes for this purpose anymore. All psychological tests and questionnaires can be offered and completed online via custom electronic medical data-capture forms.
All patient answers are recorded to mental health EMR software, and become immediately accessible to their psychotherapists along with automatically-calculated test scores, analytics, and other information.
Patient billing is a crucial workflow in mental health clinics. Integrated capabilities for insurance coverage and patient invoicing/billing can help optimize repetitive administrative procedures and exclude potential billing errors. Different payment gateways can be added via API integrations so payments can be accomplished online.
As a result, physicians and mental health clinic administrators will acquire more time to focus on high-quality patient care and services instead of bureaucratic tasks aimed at financial performance.
Patient Treatment Plans
Patient treatment is one of the most important processes and core aspects of behavioral health management software, and should be transparently managed, from the initial steps through the reporting of successful outcomes. Of course, the majority of mental health complaints, including depression and anxiety, are addressed by standard treatment protocols and best practices represented as in-system templates, including medication prescriptions and psychotherapy programs.
Every time a new patient is registered in the system, a mental health supervisor can assign a standard template as the basis for the treatment plan and apply certain adjustments as required by the specific patient situation.
A behavioral EMR solution or BHS can be also used to track and review progress over the course of patient treatment and observation.
Compliance with U.S. Regulations
One of the most important features of any medical software is strict compliance with official regulations. There exist several sets of requirements that mental health software developers must comply with, predominantly HIPAA, the California Consumer Privacy Act (the Californian equivalent of GDPR), and FDA policies that come into effect for medical devices and software used in professional-grade medical equipment.
Implementation of all security standards in mental healthcare EMR software is a task for an experienced healthcare software development company like TATEEDA GLOBAL. You can learn more here: How Custom Healthcare Software Is Developed for Secure HIPAA Compliance.
A protected, centralized database for electronic mental health documents and records is the key element of paperless document circulation in modern medical practices. Mental health clinics and other medical facilities routinely accumulate a vast amount of documentation, including patient billing reports, patient treatment logs, completed patient forms, e-prescriptions, and other documents.
All of these records can be organized across several categories and dimensions (for example, by grouping documents under patient names and profiles). In addition, since all documents contain PHI, they should be stored and managed with the appropriate level of data security.
Employee Performance Management
Healthcare employee profiles can be established within mental health EMR software so that all patient interactions, sessions, appointments, and outcomes are associated with specific professionals. This can help to better manage workloads and scheduled working hours while paying performance-based salaries and bonuses to corresponding employees. Learn more here: Medical HR Software Development.
Reports and Charts
Do you want to know how many hours a certain psychotherapist spent on patient sessions last month, and how many of their patients reported facilitation of their symptoms? In this case, you need custom reports and charting features to be included in your behavioral EMR solution. With the help of custom reports and data visualizations, it’s easier to define trends and retrieve data insights about the performance of mental health clinics and/or specialists.
Appointment Reminders and Scheduling
Sometimes, patients can miss their therapy sessions. This can happen either accidentally (because a patient needed an SMS or email reminder), or become an alarming sign requiring a follow-up call from a therapist or administrator to ask the patient about their current condition. All of these features, including intra-web and external reminders associated with electronic schedules, can be easily developed for a custom BHS.
If you want to discuss your mental health software requirements with professional healthcare software developers and get a free consultation or project estimate, contact TATEEDA GLOBAL! We are San Diego-based HIPAA-compliant software developers who would be happy to share our expertise with you.
The 4 Major Stages of Behavioral Health EMR Solution Development
Not all customers from the healthcare sector can clearly imagine how a software development process works. It’s necessary to acquire a better understanding of this process before dealing with custom software developers so both parties can build good communication and avoid common pitfalls in the creation of a custom mental health EHR system. Let’s look at the major stages:
#1. The Discovery Stage for BHS (Behavioral Health Software)
At this stage, customer representatives closely collaborate with developers to study product/project background, scope, functionality, goals, market fit, and other requirements. Successful completion of this stage guarantees optimal vision and understanding of the client’s needs and helps to avoid scope creep, inaccurate business requirements, and other project issues. In turn, this will help keep project costs affordable and avoid extra spending. Specialists involved at this stage include business analysts, software architects, UX designers, and more. The result of this stage is a clear understanding of the BHS’s purpose, supported by an accurate product roadmap.
#2. The Development Stage for BHS
The development stage includes breaking the project down into doable tech tasks and assigning them to developers and other software specialists capable of building BHS modules and features. Potential issues the team might face at this step include the following:
- Poor software architecture planning can generate software drawbacks and security gaps, leading to data breaches and leaks.
- Incompetent and/or incomplete compliance with industrial requirements such as HIPAA can result in penalties and fines.
- Mismanagement can lead to failed project deadlines and other issues.
- Remote project team-management issues can come into play if you hire remote (offshore) developers, including time-zone and cultural difficulties.
Are you looking for a reliable software developer in California?
Consider TATEEDA GLOBAL. We are health tech professionals from San Diego, CA with considerable experience in building web, mobile, desktop, and hybrid applications for U.S.-based healthcare providers and companies.
We feature our own team of senior developers, project managers, and QA specialists (medical software testers), allowing us to offer you a full-cycle BHS development experience. Learn more here: The 7 Best Healthcare Software Development Companies in California in 2022.
#3. Testing and Compliance Stage
BHS (as well as any other healthcare software system) and every included module/feature should be thoroughly tested for HIPAA compliance and code quality. This effort will ensure that no critical bugs and/or security drawbacks are left undiscovered before product release to the customer.
#4. Maintenance Stage
The project should not stop after the custom BHS product is released. Healthcare software maintenance is the next stage, and it is part of a long-term strategy: ongoing improvements, code refactoring/polishing, and building new features according to user feedback. This will provide a competitive advantage to your custom BHS in the context of a long-range perspective.
The Cost of Mental Health EMR Development
Hiring a custom software development company to build a BHS solution for your mental health practice is a tough task. Learn more here: How to Find and Hire Healthcare Software Developers for Your Medical Projects.
There are several important factors to consider:
- Do you have a qualified CTO to help you organize an efficient BHS development process with remote contractors?
- Destination: Would you choose or combine offshore, onshore, or nearshore software development options?
- Skills: Would you like to hire a company that specializes in medical systems, or software development generalists?
- Do you have a preliminary list of technologies and features to be included in your BHS or behavioral EMR system?
- What is the size of your mental health practice? How many concurrently connected users and devices do you require?
If you need a ballpark figure for building custom mental health management software, let’s consider a few details. For example, the cost of hiring an onshore medical software developer in California can range from $100 to $300+ per hour. A local custom software development company can charge you $100-200 per hour, while an EHR/EMR system can take several months to build. Learn more here: How to Estimate and Manage Custom Software Development Costs.
Hiring offshore or nearshore companies can cost you less; however, you may face issues with unfamiliar business models, foreign cultures, language barriers, different time zones, legal policies, etc. Onshore companies that use mixed models (with their R&D offices in remote destinations) can offer you a more competitive balance between price and risk.
The rough estimate for building a mental health EMR system is $70,000 – 200,000+, but if you need a more accurate and specific quote, please contact TATEEDA GLOBAL.
What is TATEEDA GLOBAL’s pricing model?
Our head office and dedicated project managers/business specialists are located in San Diego, California. We also have a well-organized R&D office in Odesa, Ukraine.
This approach allows us to:
- Provide you with a highly personalized connection.
- Offer optimized project costs.
- Make sure you have zero issues with our remote team management.
All of our senior developers are superbly trained and can integrate directly into client teams, if required, for project augmentation, maintenance, and more.
Learn more here: The 7 Best Software Developers in San Diego, California for 2022
TATEEDA GLOBAL’s Experience with Health Management Systems
TATEEDA GLOBAL has helped many U.S.-based companies with medical software project development and augmentation. Because of our thoughtful approach to HIPAA compliance and cybersecurity matters, we have become a long-term partner to AYA Healthcare, one of the biggest travel nurse bases in the United States.
Our solution for AYA has a lot of features common with EMR systems:
- protected access portals for diverse user groups
- user profiling
- time management and appointment scheduling
- financial tracking for medical staff
- and much more…
We currently provide AYA Healthcare with ongoing tech support and QA services as well as development of additional features. Read the full version here →
If you’re interested to find out how we can use our experience for your future EMR or BHS, please contact us.
Another solution we are proud of is a remote ECG-monitoring application we designed for cardiologists. This solution helped VentriLink obtain a fully functional IoMT system for patients and physicians to use as a reliable instrument for remote heart monitoring. Its functionality includes:
- Automatic identification of unusual and/or abnormal heartbeat patterns (events)
- Efficient synchronization of mobile app with server application
- Patient ECG data profiling and visualization.
These specific functionalities are similar to typical EMR tools, including patient data charting/visualization, automatic alerts sent for scheduling (reminders and more), teleconferencing, and other cross-platform features that also prove helpful in telepsychiatry and/or other remote mental health management solutions.
Ready to Make Your Own Mental Health EMR?
If you need a professional software development company to partner with you on your custom mental health software project, TATEEDA GLOBAL is here for you!
- Full-cycle onshore development of custom mental health and telepsychiatry software systems
- Personalized connection with our project manager HQ in San Diego, CA
- Custom BHS and mental health software project assistance, augmentation, and product testing
- Legacy behavior management software upgrades and reengineering
- Long-term software maintenance services for EMR and EHR systems
- Affordable project costs, thanks to our R&D branch in Ukraine
- Vast onsite experience with U.S.-based IoT, healthcare, biotech, and pharma companies
- Fast team deployment—within 48-72 hours
Contact TATEEDA GLOBAL today and build your mental health software with us!