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The 2010 Behavioral Healthcare IT Vendor Survey

September 1, 2010
by the Behavioral Healthcare Editorial Staff
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Our survey explores electronic health record systems, plus the latest software and technology offerings, from 55 companies serving behavioral health customers in a dozen countries

Welcome to our annual survey of information technology vendors and their growing range of products and solutions for the behavioral healthcare industry. While many of the players and technologies seen here will be very familiar, the landscape of the marketplace has changed dramatically over the past year.

It all started in October 2009 with the announcement of the interim final rules for implementing parity in mental health and addiction treatment. Then, the subsequent passage of national healthcare reform in March brought about even more change-that is, until July, when the announcement of simplified final Stage 1 criteria for demonstrating “meaningful use” of electronic health record (EHR) systems was released. Providers that demonstrate such use qualify for incentive funding for adoption of their “certified” EHRs under The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

However, as David Raths explains in the article What will ‘meaningful use’ mean to us? in this issue, current HITECH incentives target only individual “eligible providers” in behavioral health, not larger organizations such as psychiatric hospitals. As he explains, legislation introduced in the House (in April) and Senate (in August) seeks to level the incentive playing field.

Changes to this year's survey

At first glance, this survey may look a lot like the 2009 survey-but we've made some important changes.

First, our 2010 survey divides our list of technology vendors into two different parts: those who offer products built around electronic health records (EHRs) and those whose products serve other, more specialized needs.

Second, our target markets category is divided into three sections: providers, managed care/payers, and governmental agencies (city, county, and state) to let you know where vendors are targeting their sales efforts. When considering new technology, these groupings may help narrow your search.

Third, in the Customer Locations section, we tally up the number of U.S. states in which a company has customers, since behavioral healthcare delivery and reimbursement requirements are generally defined and managed at the state level. Some companies have a strong nationwide presence, while others focus on just a few states. There are a number of newcomers to the survey and these are marked in the U.S. states category with an “N,” signifying that the company or its product is new to the U.S. behavioral healthcare market.

Notes about system architecture

The two dominant system architectures, at least for EHRs, are those of Application Service Provider/Software as a Service (ASP/SaaS) and Client/Server.

Adopting software built on the ASP/SaaS model continues to grow in popularity for providers who would rather outsource the responsibility for supporting an EHR platform. The ASP/SaaS model enables a user organization to utilize (by purchase or long-term subscription) a package of software that is hosted by the vendor and open to the user organization via the Internet.

Target markets

Providers

Payers

City/county/state agencies or authorities

Private psychiatrist/psychologist/clinical practice (1)

Managed care organization (7)

State Medicaid agencies (9)

Outpatient community mental health, addiction treatment, or child/family/school services (2)

Health insurance company (8)

City/county behavioral health/social service/MRDD agencies (10)

Methadone treatment (3)

 

Juvenile or other justice-related programs (11)

Residential behavioral health/substance use treatment (4)

   

Inpatient psychiatric/substance use treatment (5)

 

State behavioral health/social services/MRDD agencies/authorities (12)

Employee assistance/work-life programs (6)

 

Many larger behavioral healthcare organizations have in-house information technology groups and therefore can support a Client/Server approach, which generally offers the greatest opportunity to customize an EHR or software package for an organization's specific requirements.

Increasingly, groups of organizations are adopting EHR systems through “collaboratives” or partnerships. For larger collaborative partners, the arrangement may mean that they can leverage existing investments, personnel, and vendor relationships with like-minded, smaller providers to expand their system, generate income through implementation support, or defray system costs. Smaller organizations-often attracted through existing professional relationships-gain by leaning on the experience of other partners facing the same software, processes, and business challenges.

The survey details two more system architectures as well: systems that run on a terminal server connection and systems that operate “standalone,” with all functionality available through a single PC.

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