How Telepsych Can Work Even If You Use Paper Records

You’ve heard about this cool, new thing called telepsychiatry and you’d love to give it a shot, but there is one thing standing in your way… You still use paper records.

Here’s the thing: You’re not alone! According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS), 6 percent of hospitals still use paper records. With many hospitals struggling to just break even, just thinking about the cost of an electronic health record (EHR) is enough reason to avoid implementation.

So, we get it. EHRs, while convenient, cost money...and a lot of it. Plus, they require a lot of time between transitioning records over and training staff. It can be hard to start new things when your current systems are already working just fine, thank you very much!

Did you know that paper records and telemedicine aren’t mutually exclusive?

The truth is, with the right tools and know-how, the two can work together seamlessly. Who would’ve thought?

How can you be sure we’re not making this up? Why should you trust us?

We’re a telepsychiatry provider organization made up of the highest quality psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners in the business and we partner with numerous hospitals and clinics throughout the nation to connect their patients to excellent providers.

Telepsychiatry is an innovative practice in healthcare where psychiatric providers use technology, or telemedicine, to deliver psychiatric care to patients, typically via videoconferencing. It improves patient access to standard psychiatric services, like psychiatric assessment and medication management.

Telepsychiatry equips health systems across the nation with the tools to provide high quality, accessible and affordable mental healthcare to their patients. We have an ever-increasing demand for mental healthcare in the United States, which is directly affected by our national shortage of psychiatric providers. Telemedicine is a solution that is transforming the way care is delivered. It’s allowing hospitals and health clinics in rural and under served areas to recruit excellent providers and improve patient care while reducing or maintaining costs.

We actively work with health systems that still use paper records rather than electronic health records. And, surprisingly enough, it works! Let us give you the low-down.

Integrating Paper Records and Telepsychiatry

Our company’s founding mission is that rural and under served communities deserve the same access to mental health care as the rest of the country. Many telemedicine organizations allow paper records to be a barrier of entry by refusing to find a way to integrate with health systems that still use them. We found a way -- because we fundamentally believe that something as common as paper records shouldn’t stop people from receiving the care they deserve.

We work with a handful of health systems that still use paper records for their EHR, and through a trial-and-error process, we learned what works and what doesn’t.

From our partners collective experiences, we’ve found the solution to integrating an off-site doctor into your health system, while also having them use paper records, is actually pretty simple.

Typically, we digitize all necessary forms so our psychiatrists can complete them in an approved, automated fashion mirroring a traditional EHR. They will sign and fax the forms to the system so they can be printed and placed in the nurse’s chart. Any other paper forms for patient evaluations, follow ups, and billing codes can also be integrated into our system and completed by our doctors.

Our partners have found that this system may take time to get used to, but is the most efficient workflow to ensure paperwork is properly documented - and trust us, we’ve tried a lot!

Integrating Paper Records and Telepsychiatry

It’s crucial to have the full support and buy-in of your on-site staff for the success of any telepsychiatry program. But this is particularly important when it comes to integrating a psychiatrist into a system that utilizes paper records because it requires clear communication among all staff members, including those off-site.

Our partners have found that a few simple steps make the process of getting your staff on board much easier -- and it all comes down to making them feel valued. Buy-in is easier to foster when your people feel personally involved. Below are a few of the ways we encourage our partners, and you, to train on-site staff to ensure integration is seamless:

1. Develop a clear workflow

This seems simple, but it’s easily one of the most important components. Without a clear workflow that everyone can understand, chaos can, and will, ensue. In one of our largest hospital system partners, they have flyers hanging up at the nurses’ stations with a detailed workflow for telepsychiatry consults - starting with how to schedule one and outlining each step thereafter. This way, it stays top-of-mind and is readily accessible to anyone who forgets a step in the process.

2. Host several staff training workshops

Our partners have found that hosting not just one, but a handful of staff training workshops before, during, and after implementation makes a huge difference in the initial success of their telepsychiatry program. This not only keeps your existing staff on their toes but also allows for new staff to be trained.

3. Have your provider start on-site

Not all of our providers start on-site. However, our partners have found that when there are a lot of moving parts (like implementing a workflow with paper records and telepsychiatry), it makes everyone feel more comfortable and confident in using the telepsych service. Since your staff will be assisting the telepsychiatrist with documentation, an on-site start helps foster a good working relationship with your telepsychiatrist.

4. Continue to ask for feedback from your staff

Telepsychiatry is a great solution to expanding your existing care team and psychiatric services -- but it’s still an adjustment for your staff. It’s important to make your team feel valued during times of change so they know you recognize that adjustments aren’t always easy. Our partners make sure their nurses and other on-site staff know our door is always open for constructive feedback when it comes to improving the workflow and growing our telepsychiatry partnership.

Can It Work For You?

We believe telepsychiatry can work for anyone, but only you can know if it’s right for you. Hopefully, we’ve provided you with ways to identify how telepsychiatry can work even if you use paper records and steps to ensure flawless integration if and when you decide to go for it.


About Iris Telehealth

Iris Telehealth is a telepsychiatry provider organization made up of the highest quality psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Our mission is to provide underserved communities with access to the best mental health specialists and prescribers. We are owned and operated by doctors who understand what patients need and have earned a reputation for providing outstanding customer service. Iris values building strong professional relationships with our partners and their staff. We are dedicated to understanding your organization’s needs and operational goals because we recognize that your success is critical to our own.

Iris Telehealth has helped countless hospitals and community health organizations across the country add telepsychiatry to their list of services. We believe everyone should have access to compassionate mental health care, and we have made it our mission to find innovative, affordable ways of making this possible.

Want to learn more?

Click here to download a free telepsychiatry guide.