With hundreds of electronic medical record (EMR) software options available, doctors may find it a challenge to select the appropriate software for their practice.To find the right psychiatry EMR system for your practice, you should first familiarize yourself with the criteria to use and what features to look for in an EMR system.

To find the right EMR for your psychiatry practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for psychiatrists or a similar specialty. This will be the most useful type of software for your practice because psychiatry EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of treating behavioral health and mental issues.

An important treatment within psychiatry is prescription medication, so the capability to ePrescribe (prescribe electronically) should be a prerequisite of any EMR you evaluate. ePrescription greatly simplifies the prescription process and allows robust medication tracking. More importantly, when integrated with the right EMR, it should be able to provide an alert system that can notify you of any drug interactions or contraindications.

Psychiatry also involves a copious amount of patient observation and note-taking. As such, Psychiatry EMR software is designed to facilitate note-taking either through handwriting recognition or touch screen keyboards on tablet computers, or transcription of verbal notes using integrated voice recognition software.

At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential psychiatry EMR based on the following criteria:

   • Practice Size: Some software is better suited to small practices, others to larger ones. EMR software is designed for a certain number and type of user, with scalability in mind. Make sure the software you select is appropriate for the number of psychiatrists in your practice.

   • Systems Architecture: You can purchase psychiatry EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or psychiatry EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service -”SaaS”).  Some psychiatrists prefer client-server based EMR software since they feel more comfortable with HIPAA compliance when they control all the underlying data on their systems, despite the need to maintain and upgrade these systems periodically. Other psychiatrists choose cloud-based EMR software because it can be accessed almost anywhere through the Internet. However, you are reliant on your Internet connection, so you need to make sure the quality and consistency of your Internet service is high. It is worth reading about all the advantages and disadvantages of each type, to make sure you choose software with the systems architecture that best matches your needs.

   • Certification: When selecting your psychiatry EMR, you should make sure that it is tested and certified by an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”). The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) is the responsible agency for establishing EMR certification standards and certifying vendor EMR products. ONC-ATCB certification assures that your EMR has met required Meaningful Use (“MU”) objectives and measures. This is a prerequisite to obtaining MU Medicaid (up to $63,750) and Medicare (up to $44,000) incentives for adopting an EMR, and avoiding penalties for not adopting one. To learn more about these topics, you may want to read the following articles:

To begin searching for the right EMR for your practice, click HERE

Unique Features of Psychiatry EMR software

Once you have narrowed down your EMR choices based on practice size, systems architecture, and certification, you can evaluate certain features that are unique to psychiatry practices. Such features include:

• ICD/CPT codes specific to psychiatry

• Speech recognition

• Handwriting recognition

• ePrescription capability

• Medication management and alerts

• GAF chart integration

Pre-designed Templates of Psychiatry EMR

Psychiatry EMR vendors understand that not all specialties are alike. While there are a lot of similarities shared by all EMR software, you should be able to customize whatever EMR you choose to fit your specific needs. To facilitate this, psychiatry EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:

• Bipolar disorder

• Schizophrenia

• Substance abuse

• Autism


• Depression

• Personality disorder


• Anxiety

• Children and adolescents

• Geropsychiatric patients

While selecting a psychiatry EMR may seem like a daunting task, having familiarity with the basic selection criteria common to all EMR software as well as some of the features customized for your specialty can help you make the right choice for your practice. Start the search for a suitable EMR for your psychiatry practice now.