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IT Vendor Survey: Readers' Choice

September 1, 2009
by Dennis Grantham, Senior Editor
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At the same time Behavioral Healthcare was surveying information technology (IT) vendors about their product offerings, we asked readers about which of these vendors they would like to learn more about. These six are profiled in the following pages, joini

Anasazi Software—Responding to doctors' needs

In March, Anasazi Software, Inc., rolled out the Doctor's Homepage. The new solution provides Surescripts-certified e-prescribing functionality as well as a single resource for doctors to receive appointment notifications, track potential drug-to-drug and drug-to-food interactions as well as side effects, and report changes in clients' health. Anasazi President/CEO Mike Morris explains that the Doctor's Homepage aims to offer the convenience that physicians enjoyed with paper charts-all of the information in one place. This allows prescribers to save time, which Morris says is critical; he notes that his mother's doctor retired after his clinic implemented an electronic health record because he felt it took him too much time to work through. The Doctor's Homepage is the first stage of a new interface that Anasazi is creating and this month the company is launching the Clinician's Homepage. This month also marks Anasazi's 20th anniversary as its first customer, Austin Travis County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center in Texas, was also the first to go live on the Doctor's Homepage.

Askesis Development Group—Software has to be more useful

“The data is pretty dreadful on clinician buy-in in this market, and it is up to us to make the software as useful, helpful, and intuitive as purchasing an airline ticket,” says Sharon Hicks, president and CEO of Askesis Development Group, developers of the PsychConsult suite of products. “Our company is committed to thinking from the clinician's point of view.”

“In our market,” Hicks continues, “it never really has been easier for the clinician upfront. There's always a little more work for the clinician on the front end to make things work more smoothly on the back end.” With that in mind, Askesis has taken advantage of what may well be the largest IT beta-testing group outside of Microsoft. The company is backed by two major players in the healthcare field: the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the Highmark Insurance Company based in western Pennsylvania. Both are organizations in the multibillion dollar range, and UPMC-specifically its nationally renowned Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic-provides a large testing pool of clinicians interested in furthering the behavioral IT state-of-the-art. Hicks, along with Vice President of Operations Sharon Bauer, are staff alumni of the Clinic and say they bring that perspective to all product development

Beta testing of new PsychConsult products is conducted not only by the Clinic, but by customers who volunteer for the role. Askesis periodically conducts customer conferences in Pittsburgh and invites them to “play with the prototypes.” A typical example was recent development of the PsychConsult treatment plan module, which involved a dozen customer organizations spending two days with company engineers to devise the most useful approach, testing it with other customers, and incorporation of their feedback in the final product. “Just before that, we had billing directors coming into re-engineer our accounts receivable module,” Hicks notes.

Right now, Askesis is working on software modifications that would make record-keeping less “visit-centric.” According to Bob Teitt, director of Marketing and Business Operations, “One customer can move through various levels of care quite often-inpatient to residential to partial hospitalization to outpatient to medication management-and what's needed is a way to get quick access to the relevant client data when you need it.”

Hicks and her team are also attacking broader issues. “The next big thing clinically,” she says, “is a push toward integrating behavioral healthcare with physical healthcare. We have to make sure our software supports customers' moves in that direction.” A second major issue, of course, is representing customers' interests in current debates and negotiations over American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and software certification. “We're working hard to figure out what's in it for clinicians.”

Credible Behavioral Health Software—Integrated wireless mobile is the way to go

Host the data, then let customers access it anywhere they want. That might be the mantra of Credible Behavioral Health Software, according to President and CEO Matthew M. Dorman, who maintains that his company offers the only full-service product with an integrated mobile data access solution in the market in wireless connect or disconnect modes. Staff using a laptop, a netbook, even a Smartphone can access client data when and where they need it, he says.

The key to this is the ASP/SaaS model, which Credible has specialized in since the company's founding in the year 2000. Aside from the more obvious advantages of ASP-budget-friendly, predictable monthly payments for both customer and vendor, maintenance and upgrades provided-Dorman notes the major advantage of ASP-enhanced security. “It most likely exceeds the data security that any behavioral agency could afford to provide on its own,” he says.

“There are two types of security,” Dorman explains: “First, physical security-our product is protected by ServerVault, with servers locked in a steel vault one story below ground level, armed guards, and a backup power supply good for six weeks. Second, there's data security, also protected by ServerVault, which exceeds U.S. Department of Defense standards, and features security logs for everything-intake, discharge, progress notes, release of information authorizations. Customers will know who the last person was who touched the record.”

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