New Technologies Revolutionize Mental Health Solutions, Soaring Provider and Consumer Satisfaction, Black Book Survey

Awareness of behavioral health IT benefits shaped by the surging volume of patients seeking services for mental disorders, telehealth, and the rising social acceptance of mental health issues are augmenting meteoric industry growth

The increasing number of government initiatives and funding sources to encourage organizational adoption of behavioral health software and IT services and the rising prevalence of mental health reforms favoring adoption has acutely increased positive user experiences, according to the 2021 Black Book ™ survey of 2,420 mental and behavioral health technology users.

The crowdsourced Black Book Research poll annually seeks to help stakeholders identify gaps, challenges and organizational successes in healthcare industry software and services.

"Comprehensive improvements in behavioral health tech subscription models, rising applications of software vendors in provider markets, and the rising use of telehealth have overturned a longstanding niche perception of mental health specialists that EHR software vendors disregarded the specialty's unique needs," said Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book.

However, 83% of practitioners no longer express an overall negative opinion of their EHR vendor compared to 2018 reports. Connectivity improvements and third-party interfaces have noted the greatest usability enhancements, according to 86% of users.

"During the pandemic, providers were forced to adapt to mental health consumer demands with new technological advancements despite growing patient populations and less practitioner availability," said Brown. "Unfortunately, the U.S. healthcare system has historically separated the diagnosis and treatment of physical health and mental illness, which has negatively impacted care coordination, insurance coverage and overall costs of care."

Additionally, despite a shortage of mental health specialists and inpatient beds, spending on mental health in the U.S. is on track to exceed $245 billion by the end of 2021 or about 6% of our total healthcare spend, according to Black Book estimates.

"Primary care providers have the ability via their EHR to conduct basic mental health screenings and to prescribe medications such as antidepressants, but therapists, clinical psychologists, addiction counselors, social workers and psychiatrists have largely lacked adequate EHR tools," said Brown.

Ninety-three percent of primary care providers expressed overall satisfaction of their EHR's available mental health support tools in Q1 2021 as opposed to 24% of behavioral health care clinicians in 2019.

"Patient engagement has become critical to the success of behavioral health EHR systems as well, something overlooked by behavioral health EHR architects in a health system setting just a decade ago, feeding the perception of poorly built vendor systems," said Brown. Eighty-nine percent of hospital providers are investing in the basics of chronic mental health disease management, education, psychosocial support, and patient engagement applications in 2021.

Ninety-three percent of providers that allowed mental health professionals to participate in the development and vet the selection and implementation of their behavioral health EHR prior to 2019 have the highest satisfaction ratings currently.

Top EHR vendors are also implementing artificial intelligence as the shift from fee-for-service to a value-based care is expected to help bridge the gap with effective mental health solution interfaces. Historically, sharing information between mental health providers and acute inpatient medical hospitals was time-consuming and the data analytics were vastly underused. AI-powered tools are streamlining patient outreach and leading to higher patient satisfaction and providers, confirmed nearly 60% of survey respondents.

Concerns over the lack of data privacy have also sharply decreased as a restraining factor in behavioral health technology investment as well as the percentage of providers with EHR cybersecurity worries, which decreased from 95% to 24% in the period Q1 2017 to present.

Infrastructure barriers still exist including an inability to systematically capture or share structured, standardized and coded behavioral health information from which EHR systems have difficulty communicating with each other, creating interoperability issues and siloed data. This restricts the ability to integrate real-time information seamlessly into the workflow for clinical decision-making in use of patient care, reimbursement and outcomes, according to 19% of provider respondents.

As consumers adopt mobile tools and increasingly monitor psychometric functions on their own, behavioral health providers face a growing need to track and monitor the information their patients collect. EHRs can facilitate a more seamless flow of information within and across medical health and behavioral health care systems and between patients/consumers and clinicians.

Although 98% of U.S. hospitals and 83% of U.S. physicians have implemented interoperable EHRs, only 32% of behavioral health providers have implemented these systems with advanced connectivity capabilities. Care portals running through mobile devices are offering many more opportunities for consumer engagement.

Ninety percent of clinical technology managers responded that the industry innovations that have occurred in just the last year have greatly promoted early identification, assessment and less-costly treatments of mental health and substance abuse problems in medical and behavioral health settings.

Greatest demand for the niche industry as trending in Q1 from health systems and IDNs include:

  • Telemental health technologies that provider behavioral health consultations, assessments, treatments, and support using EHR from a distance for multispecialty network clinicians (74% confirm 2021 plans to acquire).
  • Mobile mental health and wireless IT to assess and treat conditions anywhere/anytime (49%); and
  • Infrastructure technologies that collect, manage and share mental health information at multiple points of the healthcare process and streamline care coordination functions to facilitate consumer-provider connectively (47%).

About Black Book

Black Book™, its founders, management and staff do not own or hold any financial interest in any of the vendors covered and encompassed in the surveys it conducts. Black Book reports the results of the collected satisfaction and client experience rankings in publication and to media prior to vendor notification of rating results and does not solicit vendor participation fees, review fees, inclusion or briefing charges, and/or vendor collaboration as Black Book polls vendors' clients.

Since 2003, Black Book™ has polled the vendor satisfaction across over 30 industries in the software and services sectors around the globe. Black Book's mission is to improve healthcare delivery by expanding the stakeholder's voice from the front-line employee, IT and financial managers, clinical and nursing staff through the C-Suite and Board, as well as healthcare consumers.

Source: Black Book Research