It's been said that “the only constant is change.” And so it is with our 2011 IT Vendor Survey, our annual look at the growing range of information technology products and solutions for the behavioral healthcare industry.
This year, much of the momentum for change centered on the evolution of Meaningful Use measures. These measures, which now include 15 “core set” and 10 “menu set” measures, have now become a measuring stick for the capabilities of not only “eligible providers” but also electronic health record (EHR) systems.
Behavioral health providers who wish to qualify for financial incentives for adopting and using EHRs under terms of The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 must do two things: purchase or use “certified” EHR technology and demonstrate, through three successively more challenging stages, that they are meaningfully using it.
IT vendors who develop and market EHR technology must have their systems “certified” by an “authorized testing and certification body.” The certification process evaluates the features intended to support meaningful use of the EHR system in one of two settings-Inpatient or Ambulatory-and, if the software “passes” the test, the testing body issues either a “complete” or “modular” certification and lists the product at on the Certified Health IT Product List.
A “complete” certification means that an EHR system (in the version/configuration specified on the certification) has the capability to support all core-set and menu-set requirements for Stage 1 of meaningful use. A “modular” certification means that the software supports at least one of the requirements.
Ultimately, a provider who wants to demonstrate meaningful use has to have a “complete” EHR system. But, there's some flexibility in how to get one. Many providers will opt to buy a “complete” EHR system from a single vendor, but more sophisticated (and IT-rich) organizations can assemble or create their own through a “mix and match” of modular components.
But to qualify for HITECH EHR incentive funds, these “mix and match” systems must also pass certification testing, with testing expenses borne by their owners.
For IT developers who have specialized in the field of behavioral health, the demands of Meaningful Use have meant they had to create product capabilities to support primary care functions such as quality management reports, immunization records, and syndromic surveillance. “Until recently, these features were nothing that vendors have ever offered or competed on … they were new for most of the vendors,” explains Mike Morris, co-founder and CEO of Anasazi Software (Phoenix, Ariz.).
To meet these new feature requirements, he says that many IT vendors diverted available R&D moneys away from their own product-development priorities. As you'll see in the “Certification” column that concludes the EHR list, these development efforts are meeting with success. A substantial number of vendors already offer EHR products certified as “complete” or “modular” and, of those who do not, nearly all anticpate an effort to certify their products no later than 2012.
Parts of the 2011 IT Vendor Survey
The 2011 Behavioral Healthcare IT Vendor Survey divides IT vendors into two major lists.
Click on the first and larger graphic below to see the IT Survey list of products that, according to their vendors, are considered electronic health records (EHRs). The smaller graphic below links to the IT Survey list of other available IT products. After you open one of these .pdfs, you can visit the websites of responding IT vendors (click on company name) or read their detailed IT Survey replies (click on product name).
A second and shorter IT product list (displayed below) contains IT vendors and products whose functionality serves other vital behavioral health operations. Click on the graphic to view the list in a printable PDF format.
Both lists detail a range of vendor-reported product information:
- Market Segments Served, with numbers indicating the type of provider, payer, or governmental entity for whom the product is intended.
- Platform, which briefly describes the system architecture or platform on which the software operates.
- Case Management and Clinical Features (see below)
- Administrative and Financial Features (see below)
Understanding the survey's feature listings
The survey's listing of Case Management and Clinical Features, shown in green, asks vendors to report on whether their products contain features to support:
- Case management
- Treatment plans
- Appointment scheduling
- Clinical assessments
- Clinical decision support
- Disease management
- Automatic tracking (patient/staff/asset tracking using radio-frequency interchange (RFI) or real-time locating system (RTLS) technology
- Personal health record
The survey's listing of Administrative and Clinical Features, shown in blue, details additional vendor-reported features: