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April 18, 2019

Lucille Schacht, PhD; Glorimar Ortiz, MS; Robert Shaw, MA. (4/18/2019). Implementation Status of Electronic Health Record (EHR) Systems in State Psychiatric Hospitals. Falls Church, VA: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute. 

In today’s environment, Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems are an important and expensive purchase, and in many cases a necessary enhancement for the future viability of the healthcare system. This consumer report is based on the experiences of all states and the District of Columbia in relation to implementation of EHRs in their state operated psychiatric hospitals. The data are based on a survey distributed in the summer of 2018 in which all states responded on behalf of their state psychiatric hospitals. Forty-one states have an EHR in their state operated psychiatric hospitals, although no state has an EHR that was all-inclusive in terms of components. 

  • A variety of products have been implemented, some homegrown, and many in only one or two states.
  • Netsmart’s Avatar product is the most common (49% of states with an EHR and 42% of state psychiatric hospitals with an EHR). Functionality varies across states, including those using the same product. 
  • 76% of states reported that they still needed to keep paper charts alongside the EHR.
  • The majority of states also indicated that their EHR system was not providing adequate support for transmitting data to other systems and migration of patient data from legacy systems.
  • More than half of the states with EHRs were planning to upgrade or change their systems due to current inadequacies.

The issues for the future include standardizing workflow and documentation across the hospital system in order to implement a consistent and less customized EHR, managing the large capital and continuing maintenance costs of EHR technology, and ensuring the EHR is capable of meeting future requirements from both internal and external oversight.

Read the full report to learn more about barriers to implementation, the most common reasons for upgrading, the least common components and functions implemented, and usability ratings. States can also use the specific issues identified by other states as potential talking points when engaging an EHR vendor in a demonstration of its usability.