A Discussion With Maria Gray, LPN, AZZLY Product Manager And Implementation Specialist

A Discussion with Maria Gray, LPN, AZZLY Product Manager and Implementation Specialist

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Tom Patton: Welcome to Talking Treatment™, the podcast that features healthcare experts, industry leaders and treatment center providers from around the country – presented by AZZLY®.

On this episode I’m talking with Maria Gray, Product Manager and Lead Onsite Implementation Specialist at AZZLY. Maria is also a Licensed Practical Nurse. Maria, welcome to the program.

Maria Gray: Thank you so much, Tom.


Why AZZLY® is a Unique EHR Platform for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Clinics

Tom Patton: Let’s start out talking about from your perspective as a nurse and now as an implementation specialist, can you describe what makes AZZLY unique

Maria Gray: Honestly their training and implementation, you know, the way that we listen to our customers. We really discover how best to train AZZLY Rize™ to meet the treatment center’s needs.

You know, we spend a lot of time during our discovery calls trying to best discover, “What is your workflow? What makes your facility run smoothly?”

So based on your facility’s workflows we really spend a lot of time to customize our training, our processes, our implementation so that it runs according to your current workflow, rather than just training on a system that’s technology.


The Value of a Clinical Background to a Typical Mental Health/Addiction Treatment Center

Tom Patton: Tell me in your own words then, what is the value of having a clinical background in product management and implementation? What does that provide for a typical treatment center?

Maria Gray: You know, Tom, I’ve been in this position many times where I’ve been with a facility that has transitioned from one EHR to another. I always think of my license first, right? So when I’m going through a transition, what’s important to me as a user? Is it the training? Is it the processes? Is it the difference in maybe the layout of the forms? 

Because that’s what I’ve seen most often is that the forms, maybe it’s the same verbiage within them, but they’re laid out a little bit differently. And things like that that I want to prepare our users for. So it’s putting myself in my users’ shoes to really be able to just step in and remember what it was like when I was transitioning from one EHR to another, what type of communication was needed in terms of with the EHR team. That’s always been really important.

I want to see what it is like as our training is really being implemented. You know, it’s one thing for a trainer to give me step-by-step instructions, but what happens when it’s in my hands? So I want to put myself in our users’ positions and really try to understand, “Now that you’re using it, how are you going to use it? How is this going to work best for you?”


IT Burnout

Tom Patton: So then how does AZZLY help treatment providers with what they call “IT burnout”?

Maria Gray: Tom, this is a great question. You know, we’re commonly asked where does the name AZZLY come from and we answer that with, “We’re an A-to-Z solution. So from the time of pre-admission all the way through your intake, your clinical medical processes, through billing where you’re getting paid as a client, All of that is consumed within AZZLY as a whole.

So being able to work with your business development team, manage those pre-admission clients, being able to really work through the intake process, working with your admission team… The clinical team through that admission, they’re completing their bio sites. That’s being automatically sent to billing. That’s all consumed within one EHR, so that you’re not having to log into one system, log into another, trying to figure out how to connect.

We have a lot of automated processes within AZZLY that allow us to beat that A-to-Z solution and that does help prevent IT burnout. You know, I’ve worked with other facilities, Tom, where I’ve had to complete maybe some documentation, I’ve had to upload it, download it, re-upload it into another system. I’m trying to show my billers where this data is coming from, how it’s validated. So I personally found within AZZLY that being able to have all of this as one solution has really reduced the amount of time needed by clinicians especially, clinicians and the medical team, so that we can ensure that our documentation is completed and it’s ready to be submitted. It’s already in the process of being submitted essentially to the billing to be able to be paid as a provider.


Avoiding Typical Pitfalls While Changing Electronic Health Record Systems

Tom Patton: What are some of the typical struggles that come up when you’re assisting clinicians change from one EHR to another and how have you at AZZLY been able to overcome those challenges?

Maria Gray: You know, Tom, one of the most common struggles that I see is clinicians just not being familiar with the difference in the layout in their forms (their documentation, their notes) in terms of the display from one EHR to another.

So for example, a biopsychosocial may display one way in one system and then when coming over to AZZLY we typically have many conditional fields so that only certain fields display based on certain responses. 

So that has been something that we’ve seen in terms of a struggle with our end users. However that’s easily remedied by our Super User training when Super Users are willing to step in and educate their End Users. “Hey, here’s what’s coming up: we’re changing EHRs. This is the same information. It may display a little differently. However, all of your data is still there.”

So working with our Super Users from the beginning of training so that they’re familiar with the changes in layout, the changes in questions, the changes in conditional fields, and they’re able to educate our end users — that truly provides the best experience during a Go-Live process.


AZZLY Lowers Stress for Clinicians Serving Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Patients

Tom Patton: How then do you lower the stress for them?

Maria Gray: I always try to let my clients know, “Here are the hurdles that we typically experience.” So just as we go back to the question before, what typically causes an issue during Go-Live? Well maybe it’s end users not being prepared for a different view of forms. Something as simple as that, our end users being educated on that change can make a huge difference.

Also of course letting them know that they can always always reach out to us at Client Services at AZZLY.com. That makes a big difference, because we want them to know that we are available for them. Not only during business hours, but we have staff who are available outside of business hours who are on call. So as they’re working through their documentation, they’re working through their their workflow, they do have support from us always in terms of the EHR their documentation billing, etc.


AZZLY EHR Platform: Onsite or Online Training?

Tom Patton: Now you’re the Lead Onsite Implementation Specialist. It says “Onsite.” Does AZZLY typically offer onsite training or have you switched to a mostly online program?

Maria Gray: You know, Tom, most of our training is done online. However, I love to go onsite. I’ve worked in this field for many years. I’ve worked for most levels of care. So when I get to go onsite, I get to put myself in the position of our end users. I get to really see what’s going on, what are their hurdles, what are their hang-ups, what are their workarounds that maybe wouldn’t be suggested, because we find that often as well.

So I love to go onsite with our facilities. However, most of our training is accomplished online. You know, as long as we have somebody who is appropriate to provide that knowledge base of the workflow, the processes, policies, for a facility, then we don’t require an onsite visit in order to accomplish a successful Go-Live.

We have an experienced team. I use myself as an example, where as a nurse I’ve worked onsite in many facilities, for various levels of care. Do I need to go onsite to understand what you’re doing? No, not necessarily. But can it be helpful? Absolutely. 

But if I have somebody on site who is able to provide that support, who’s willing to be dedicated to the training process, who’s willing to be dedicated to understanding the changes that are taking place, then it does not require an onsite visit.

We pride ourselves on being an intuitive system. We provide e-learning which is an online documentation library that provides step-by-step instructions on how to perform most functions within this system. We record our trainings when we meet with our end users or our Super Users, so we have a lot of data that’s available in order for someone to be able to access and function appropriately.

I also understand everyone has different learning styles, so if that onsite visit is needed, we’re absolutely available. Derek [Dorado, VP of Business Development] can always be reached out to in order to facilitate that, and I love going onsite. But is it necessary? No, it’s actually the exception.


AZZLY Provides Ongoing Training and Support to Clients After They Go Live

Tom Patton: And then do you provide ongoing training and support once the treatment center is live on AZZLY?

Maria Gray: Absolutely, Tom! We pride ourselves on our ongoing support.

Not only do we have the e-learning that I mentioned earlier, but we also have Client Services at AZZLY.com, which is our ticketing system. We allow our customers to reach out to us day, night, weekends, anytime, for additional support.

We pride ourselves on our Client Services experience for our clients, as they’re not only going live but also after they’ve gone live. So maybe they’re up and using the system and they’re just using a new feature for the first time and they need some additional support. We’re always here available for them to provide that additional support. And we look forward to hearing from our clients, because ultimately, and this will be echoed during any interaction that’s ever heard, whether it’s between me and our team, or me and our clients, we pride ourselves on that relationship that we build with our clients.  The relationship is the most important thing.

We want them to know that we care, we’re there, and we’re available. We want to support them. As a nurse I understand the importance of having that support, because ultimately it’s not only my license on the line, but my patient’s life who’s there and being dependent on.



Tom Patton: I’m talking with Maria Gray, Product Manager and Lead Onsite Implementation Specialist at AZZLY® on this episode of Talking Treatment™. Maria is also a Licensed Practical Nurse.


AZZLY’s Unique Features Benefit Behavioral Healthcare and Addiction Treatment Providers

Tom Patton: Now, Maria, what are some of the features unique to AZZLY that benefit behavioral health care and addiction treatment providers?

Maria Gray: We have a Master Library within our EHR of forms for mental health, substance use, eating disorders. These forms have been Joint Commission-and-CARF audited, so these are reliable forms.

We also have our Encounters set up that are available. We work with our clients one-on-one with these Encounters so that based on the service provided, “What are the forms? What is the documentation that you would expect to have completed based on those services provided?”

We also have Criteria Matching, so that if you are working with a group of providers who provide various types of services and you have a patient admit who requires a specific service, we can match not only to that specific service—maybe it’s that specific specialty, language, some other demographics, some other maybe religious aspect. So you’re able to set up Criteria Matching that helps best match new patients to a clinician and support team that support their care.

We have My Work within AZZLY. My Work is a feature that allows users to see all of their additional documentation that has been started but not yet completed. So if I’m a provider and I want to see what have I started documenting but not yet just completed, I can always go back and see that list so that I can ensure my documentation is being submitted in a timely manner that meets not only credentialing needs but also billing needs.

We have a chronological e-Chart which is a streamlined view of all of the services that have been provided to a patient and that makes—whether it’s the doctors the utilization reviewers, the compliance officer, an auditor, a nurse, a provider—it makes all of their jobs easier to go back and review what is taking place with this patient at what time.

We also have a Bed Board which is highly configurable and very, very, very customizable by user for each treatment center and by location. So each location can have a unique configuration for that. That is something that’s newer that we’ve really had a lot of great, positive feedback from, Tom.


Encounters with AZZLY

Tom Patton: Talk a little bit more in depth about the Encounters feature.

Maria Gray: So our Encounter set up within AZZLY is a setup of documentation as well as data that is needed based on a certain type of service being provided. 

This helps our facilities, our users, our providers greatly in terms of not having to search for information but having it all in one view. So that they can see within one view that prior medication history, patients’ vitals, their labs, their diagnosis. 

It shortens the time that a physician needs to spend time with a patient because it allows them to see all of this within one view. It also allows additional documentation to be provided. We have certain forms that are required based on a facility’s setup so that if a facility says, for example, based on a history and physical, they want a certain form completed, but perhaps they want additional forms to be available, they can also have that as “optional.”

So we have our “required” and our “optional forms” that are all available. These are here not only for documentation purposes but also as billable services that were provided so everything is documented at their fingertips. We’re able to change our severity codes, update our notes, and then ultimately all of this is auto-billed for reimbursement, which is the goal of the facility in terms of having these payments provided.


Living in a Digital World: AZZLY Serves Mental Healthcare and Addiction Treatment Providers

Tom Patton: Now there’s a shift in health care towards patients and providers wanting more remote accessibility, especially with what we’ve gone through in the past couple of years with COVID. How has AZZLY adjusted to serve people in the digital world?

Maria Gray: Goodness, Tom, you sure hit on a good point here, because we definitely felt this this past year. COVID affected many of our clients in various ways, and being able to provide a Patient Engagement Tool here so that our clients are able to continue providing these absolutely necessary services, but providing them remotely. 

We’re able to use Citus®, which is our Patient Engagement Tool here, so that if we need to complete admission documentation, maybe we need to have a consent for treatment signed remotely or a release of information filled out and signed remotely, we’re able to do that.

In addition to the signed documentation piece, we’re also able to have surveys, various communications with outside entities, whether it may be family members, guardians, court parole officers, you know anybody who might be a part of the team and this person’s progress.

Within AZZLY all of that is able to be accomplished and engaged with our Patient Engagement Tool. So we’re really excited to offer this throughout COVID. This was needed before COVID in various ways, but COVID definitely brought this to a heightened point, so we’re really excited to have this available to our facilities in this time of need.


AZZLY’s Advice for Treatment Centers Implementing a New Electronic Health Record

Tom Patton: Just a couple of things more. First of all, what advice would you give to a treatment center owner or executive that’s looking at implementing a new Electronic Health Record system for their business?

Maria Gray: I just advise you to look for somebody who is looking to fully hear and learn your processes. Because as an end user, as a nurse, I mentioned earlier that I’ve gone through this where I’ve been a part of this transition process. And I’ve been in some positions where it’s like, “Here’s your new system. Now use it” and it wasn’t really appropriate.

And it makes a big difference whenever you’re working with a facility who wants to hear, “What are you doing today? What is your workflow? Why is this working for you or why is this not?” And just really getting down to that very very granular level, understanding your needs, your struggles, and the benefits of what you’re using currently. You wouldn’t be using what you’re using today if there wasn’t some sort of benefit to it essentially, so we want to understand all of that so that we can bring that over. 

So I would just ask that you look at the big picture, find somebody that is able and willing to communicate all of that, not only at the beginning but throughout the entire implementation process. So whether that’s the planning, the training, the actual implementation but with the end users, and then the follow-up so that you know that your staff are able to continue their jobs, protect their licenses, and provide the best services available to their patients which is ultimately what we’re all in this business for.


AZZLY Support Expert Offers Insights to EHR Users

Tom Patton: And one thing more, Maria. Is there any other information that you think would be valuable to our listeners?

Maria Gray: You know, I just want to reiterate that we have a Client Services team that is made up of nurses, many of whom have worked within the Client Services field that we’re providing. 

So for example, myself. I’ve worked in Residential, PHP, IOP, Outpatient, Medication-Assisted Treatment. We have other staff members who worked on the billing side within those same fields. So being able to just really have a team available at your fingertips who has been in your shoes.

I may not have all of the answers. I like to think I do, Tom, but I may not. But if I don’t, I can guarantee you that I have someone else on my team who does have those other fill in the blank answers. So for me that’s definitely made a big difference in working with our facilities is knowing that, ego aside, if I can’t answer your question, there’s someone on my team who I know can answer those.

And that’s been huge to me not only would I see that as huge to me as an end user, but as a staff member who takes a lot of pride in implementations and client success, it’s helpful to me to know that I have a full team from billing, scheduling, front desk piece, the medical, the clinical, all the way from admission to discharge. A-to-Z, AZZLY, a complete solution. I have that team available, and that gives me the confidence to proceed from day to day. And I know that that’s what we hear reiterated from our customers as well, is that they know they will be provided that solution.



Tom Patton: Maria, thanks so much that’s all the time we have for this edition of Talking Treatment so thanks again for joining me.

Maria Gray: Thank you so much, Tom.

Tom Patton: Maria Gray is a Licensed Practical Nurse, and she’s Product Manager and Lead Onsite Implementation Specialist at AZZLY.

Talking Treatment is produced by Broad Reach Communications® and AZZLY®. AZZLY offers an all-in-one solution for behavioral healthcare and addiction treatment providers. Visit azzly.com to schedule a free consultation with an AZZLY expert today. And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode of Talking Treatment™. I’m Tom Patton, thanks for listening.