How Heart-Centered Counseling Went Digital with Telehealth and HIPAA Compliance

Carl Nassar, Ph.D., and President of Heart-Centered Counseling in Colorado, came to mental health counseling via an unconventional path. But, once he began private practice and realized the number of patients he couldn’t see in person for various reasons, he recognized the need for change in mental health service delivery. He also realized the importance of incorporating technology into the practice so that it could meet the demands of patients in rural areas of Colorado.

After founding Heart-Centered Counseling, Carl partnered with mental health experts and school systems to remove barriers to service delivery. Rural areas of Colorado have some of the highest rates of suicide in the country, so the organization quickly expanded in seven years from a team of seven to having over 200 providers across the entire state. Heart Center Counseling now provides mental health therapy and services to thousands of patients throughout Colorado that, without telehealth capabilities, would otherwise have limited or no access to mental health services.

Heart-Centered Counseling (HCC) had just started using DocuSign eSignature three weeks before COVID-19 struck, but the need for telehealth was already growing. HCC completely digitized the patient intake process and adopted a telehealth consent form to help patients review and sign agreements electronically. When existing patients request to switch to telehealth services, they have to sign the telehealth release form. Through DocuSign eSignature, new clients were sent packets and consent forms delivered to their email and reviewed on their computers or mobile devices and signed electronically. For both of these workflows, HCC needed a solution that could scale to 22 locations and was HIPAA compliant.

DocuSign’s HIPAA compliant eSignature platform helped HCC get all of the necessary forms signed for telehealth patients, and upload the data into their electronic health record system. Heart-Centered Counseling has also taken steps to be CFR 42 complaint and as a part of that compliance process HCC’s clients sign appropriate releases.The seamless integration with Heart Center’s existing workflows has also led to improved patient outcomes, both in the onboarding experience, having people follow through on appointments because the enrollment/consent process was easy with DocuSign, as well as being able to treat people in their homes, both of which have led to improved outcomes. 

Heart-Centered Counseling sees telehealth as here to stay. Before COVID-19, only 5-10% of the client base was taking advantage of telehealth services. Now, as shelter-in-place has created more demand and clients have gained comfort with telehealth, it’s holding steady at 80%. Going forward, they expect telehealth to be around 30% of business in the long run. Given that patient care has been transformed, Heart-Centered realizes this being the new normal and has prepared to continue expanding DocuSign eSignature into other areas of their practice.

To learn how other small organizations like Heart-Centered Counseling are keeping business moving, view our on-demand virtual event “DocuSign Presents: Helping Your Small Business Move Forward.”

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