Electronic Health Record (EHR) Software Review: Defran

Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More


They deserve a look.

If a professional group is looking for an Electronic Health Record (EHR), Defran deserves a look. Defran is an experienced company, having advanced through several versions of their software, and judging by a conversation I had with one of their folks recently, the software continues to evolve…good thing, as Evolv-CS is the name of their product.

One of the most important aspects of an EHR is the ability to maintain consumer confidentiality of records. It’s nobody else’s business that a person is receiving treatment, and the “user role” approach to security and defining home screens is similar to other products I’ve seen (I call that “standard technology”), and on the surface it seems well developed.

A question comes up frequently when people in the business of helping folks with mental health and addictions difficulties interview consumers, and that’s “How did you hear about us”. Most often, the answer is a referral from another professional, organization or consumer. Defran focuses heavily on referrals in their presentation, because that’s the marketing and intake process. I like this, simply because you learn some consumer history in that stage of business. I believe the more history you can have on a person and the sooner you can get it, the better you can understand a consumer’s need, and if you have the financial information captured, the sooner you can secure authorizations if they are needed in order to bill for pre- and post-admission services. The software’s work flow appears well thought out and flexible.

In fact, all workflows are flexible. The product comes with a field-level design tool that enables the design of screens according to the need of the staff doing the work. Another plus that involves the consumer. The consumer should probably be concerned that their professional is “getting it right” and good documentation helps with that concern.

The home page approach is flexible, with the same “drag and drop” functionality to move sub windows around on the screen. The home page can be designable by the user, so that particular user will have one-click access to any forms, documentation, messaging or activity scheduling they need. As the user flows from one screen to another, there are handy task bars at the bottom and top of the windows to access data that is too voluminous and varied to present on the front page of the user screen…this tabbed approach seems to be common among software products in our field. I like it.

From the home page, the professional manages the internal communications, tasks, and a few compliance items that show up; a professional can access his caseload, which displays a face sheet showing all documents pertaining to that consumer.

One thing I’d like to know more about is how Defran’s software assures that documentation meets requirements of accreditation agencies, state and federal government and various programs that may audit a professional agency. Software usually has some nifty tricks to assure certain information is gathered and later prove that it was gathered. I likely neglected to ask about that in the interview.

Defran has recently redesigned the front desk screen. That’s generally the way a person at the front desk will know where to direct the consumer and assure she gets the care she expects and needs. Since this is new, take a careful look at it if you’re interested in the software. I’d want to talk with other professionals who’ve used this functionality before I bought it.

Defran also stresses assessments a lot. Most of the facilities I’ve worked with used an intake assessment which includes a bio-psycho-social and a psychiatric assessment with few other assessments completed during the course of treatment. To a consumer this is a lot of paperwork.

It seemed to be of interest to the salesperson that we saw the assessment’s ability to use a radio-button selection capability to score an assessment. That is nothing new, however they did have a nice way of displaying the results of such outcomes measurements at the bottom of the assessment. Assessments also push data to the treatment plan, which is also common. These sorts of assessments deliver immediate direction to the professional and consumer for the course of treatment and points toward the next steps they may want to tackle.

The treatment plan is a high point, and would deserve more attention if I were purchasing an EHR. The layout is familiar to those who are familiar to the Wiley documentation, which is included at a fee.

Notes for group therapy are fabulous. The functionality does everything other software does, only with an original approach to the group not screen. I liked it, and I’m not going to even try to describe it, leaving it up to professionals to review.

With all this good stuff and a long time track record manufacturing software, you may ask if there are shortcomings. Well, the best answer to that question will be available by looking at the software and calling some folks using the EHR. Personally, I’d suggest talking with an independent consultant…but then I would.

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