Online Program

Meaningful use of electronic medical records among rural community mental health agencies

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christopher R. Larrison, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Neil Jordan, PhD, Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Xiaoling Xiang, M.Phil, School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Mara Gustafson, MA, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Background: Electronic medical records (EMRs) have been part of mental health services for more than a decade. Federal policies identify three stages of EMRs meaningful use that move from collecting and storing data electronically in stage 1 to clinical use in stage 2, and finally, to sharing data between providers in stage 3. Little is known about the stage of EMRs meaningful use among rural community mental health agencies (CMHAs).

Methods: Representatives from 12 CMHAs in the Midwest that serve over 14,000 patients completed an online questionnaire about EMRs meaningful use. Four broad areas structured the questionnaire: 1) EMRs functions available to staff, 2) stage of meaningful use, 3) communication with other health care providers, and 4) EMRs system development and costs. The questionnaire was hosted on SurveyMonkey. Univariate statistics were used to analyze the data.

Results: 92 % (n=11) of CMHAs used EMRs to collect and store patient data. Widely available EMRs functions included scheduling appointments, billing, clinical assessments, and case notes. Less common functions included psychiatrists' notes, transfer information, and medication lists. All CMHAs were at stage 1. Communication with other health care providers remained paper-based for 67% (n=8) of CMHAs. Half of the CMHAs developed their EMRs system using an internal IT team and 100% utilized cash or operating expenses.

Conclusions: CMHAs have become adapt at collecting and storing data, but rarely have the resources or expertise to analyze complex data for clinical use or share it electronically with other health care providers. Cost barriers remain significant.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of electronic medical records (EMRs) meaningful use by rural community mental health agencies (CMHAs). Analyze cost and implementation barriers to moving CMHAs from stage 1 EMRs meaningful use to stages 2 and 3. Identify possible solutions to cost and implementation barriers that prevent movement by CMHAs toward stages 2 and 3 of EMRs meaningful use.

Keyword(s): Mental Health Services, Health Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work with over 15 years of professional and research experience related to community mental health agencies. Among my scientific interests has been the development and use of electronic medical records by rural community mental health agencies.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.