Spurwink Project Access: Improving Behavioral Health Care through Remote Access EHR

By January 29, 2019Blog

At your recent medical visits, have you noticed your caregiver updating your history and symptoms directly into a computer instead of taking handwritten notes and adding them to a file? This shift from paper to technology isn’t just about saving paper. Behavioral health providers are increasingly utilizing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to track client information and improve care.

Spurwink is implementing an agency-wide EHR to both improve mental health care for clients and boost operational efficiency. The new EHR will help us achieve the “Quadruple Aim” of health system performance by (1) improving health, (2) providing better care, (3) decreasing healthcare spending, and (4) improving caregiver experience. This year, we are rolling out the EHR expansion to our Outpatient and Community Service teams so that all clients who access one of our clinicians or care managers will be utilizing the new system.

To launch this effort, Spurwink was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the Davis Family Foundation to help purchase touchscreen laptops for clinicians and care managers in our Behavioral Health Home (BHH) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT) programs. We’re committed to meeting clients where treatment will be most accessible and effective. For people with behavioral or emotional problems, that place is often in their own homes or in the community.

How do BHH and FTT work?

  • Spurwink’s BHH model provides mental and physical health support and care coordination to youth, adults, and families with emotional and behavioral challenges, mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or autism. Spurwink Care Coordinators provide a psychosocial assessment, individualized service plan coordination, advocacy, and assistance in identifying and accessing appropriate services and resources. The program emphasizes integration with medical providers, family voice and choice, and building natural supports.
  • Spurwink’s FFT program is for youth with serious behavioral challenges, often with multiple system involvement, who are struggling to live successfully with their families. The intensive evidence-based approach is strengths-based, focusing on assessment of risk and protective factors that impact the adolescent and his or her environment, with specific attention to the family. Guiding principles of FFT include respect for family culture; balanced alliance with all members; a non-judgmental attitude; individualized interventions based on family qualities, strengths, and challenges; and a relational focus.

The new Project Access EHR-enabled laptops will allow staff to remotely access clinical records in BHH and FFT client homes or in the community so that we can provide better, more data-informed client care.

Project Access will help:

  • Improve Patient Care – Fast access to critical patient records for more coordinated, efficient care; improved client health/quality of care through patient education and health management; legible and complete documentation that facilitates accurate coding and improved care; and ability to track both individual clients progress and monitor population health outcomes;
  • Increase Patient Participation – Providers and clients can access treatment plans and other assessments, with clients engaged and participating in informed decision making;
  • Improve Care Coordination – With members of the client care team including schools and other medical providers; and
  • Practice Efficiencies and Cost Savings – Reduced time spent on paperwork, decreasing the administrative burden on staff so that they have the ability to be more present with, and serve, more clients. The project will increase productivity, improve workflow, decrease burnout/turnover, and increase morale of staff, lowering administrative costs.

Project Access will help improve the delivery of care to more than 900 children, adults, and families in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo, and York Counties.

Project Access was piloted at Spurwink in 2018. Staff participating demonstrated improvements in data/report compliance and increased caseloads, while at the same time reporting decreased frustration with documentation and increased job satisfaction. They also found it easier to engage clients in their treatment planning and assessments, with decreased stress. One clinician shared, “Our goal is to be available for clients in crisis. The laptops helps us complete paperwork in a shorter time, giving us more time to be responsive to clients. We are freer, more “there” for clients. We’re not worrying about the paperwork that needs to get done, so that we can meet our clients with open hearts.”

Spurwink is committed to a robust EHR and database to continue informing clinical practice, improve health outcomes, and lower the cost of mental health care. To learn more about Spurwink Behavioral Health Homes or Functional Family Therapy programs, call the Spurwink Link at 1.888.889.3903 or fill out this form.