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Netsmart software supports mental health-primary care integration at Shawnee

November 8, 2010
by News release
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Great River, NY - Netsmart Technologies, Inc. announced that one if its mental health provider customers, Shawnee (Ohio) Mental Health Center, is achieving positive results from a mental health/primary care integration initiative that utilizes Netsmart's Avatar(TM) clinical and practice management software.

Shawnee Mental Health Center, located in Portsmouth, Ohio, is a private, non-profit community mental health center that operates four outpatient clinics serving 5,200 adults and children each year in three Ohio counties.

More than 360 Shawnee Mental Health Center clients have received primary care services since the program's inception; Shawnee's goal is to serve more than 1,000 by the end of 2013. Positive outcomes include weight loss, increased exercise and reduced smoking in their client base, as well as discovery and treatment of previously undiagnosed illnesses such as elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

"Our research showed that many of our clients did not have a regular primary care physician," said Don Thacker, executive director, Shawnee Mental Health Center. "In order to meet our goal of providing the highest level of care possible, we really wanted to do our part to help our clients lead longer, healthier lives."

A Netsmart customer since 1985, Shawnee now uses Netsmart's Avatar Clinician Workstation (CWS) solution, a behavioral health EHR that integrates the clinical tools necessary for an interdisciplinary approach to the delivery of care. They also use Netsmart's Avatar Practice Management (PM) software, a modular, customizable practice management software solution that efficiently manages scheduling, billing and treatment planning and other key processes.

Shawnee used Avatar's RADplus modeling feature to create forms to document a patient's vital signs and record all primary care services provided. A tracking report was also created to allow the primary care staff to follow the patient's progress and outcomes over time. A care coordination letter is sent to a patient's primary care physician to inform them about the services provided by Shawnee to their patient.

"Our solutions enable the secure sharing of clinical information between mental health and primary care practitioners, which helps Shawnee Mental Health provide quality, fully-integrated care to their clients," said James L. Conway, chief executive officer, Netsmart Technologies. "As Shawnee Mental Health's technology partner, we're pleased to play a part in the success of this worthwhile, innovative project, which is having tangible positive results for the health of Shawnee's clients."

The Avatar software also lets Shawnee simplify and consolidate clinical, nursing and billing data both for primary care and mental health clients. Shawnee staff can also create and modify forms in the Avatar system; saving time and helping Shawnee maintain continuity and consistency in their processes.

The integrated care initiative was spurred in part by a study published in 2006 by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors that indicated that, on average, people with severe mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population. Many of the deaths are due to common conditions such as smoking-related diseases, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

In response to this alarming trend, Shawnee Mental Health Center applied for and received a $500,000 four-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA) to enhance a program that had been established earlier through a grant from The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati to provide primary healthcare services to Shawnee Mental Health Center clients with severe mental illnesses.

In the first year of the program, Shawnee funded a nurse practitioner and a contract physician for consultation. Services included classes and programs in smoking cessation, wellness, nutrition, exercise and well-woman care. The program was later expanded to include an integrated care support staff member, three nurse care managers, three wellness coaches and a part-time nurse practitioner.

Future goals for the Shawnee Mental Health mental health-primary care program include adding two additional full-time nurse practitioners and a part-time physician. Shawnee is also preparing to qualify for Medicaid incentive funds for Meaningful Use of an EHR based on their use of Netsmart solutions.

"We're most proud that our clients have regular, consistent contact with mental and physical health care experts in whom they trust, and that we're seeing tangible results from this integrated program," said Thacker.

For information about Netsmart Technologies' full range of solutions for health and human services organizations, visit www.ntst.com.

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