In an effort to promote the use of information technology in behavioral health care settings, federal agencies have invested $20 million over three years. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) hope that this investment will help close the gap between physical and behavioral health providers in terms of electronic health records (EHRs) and other technologies.
Behavioral health clinicians will be given access to a new set of behavioral health-specific data elements as part of this initiative. A new United States Core Data for Interoperability Plus (USCDI+) domain has been designed to capture key behavioral health data points and improve continuity between behavioral health clinicians and others caring for the same patients. This is all part of an effort to improve the effectiveness and reduce the cost of data capture.
In August, lawmakers also introduced a new bill to fund EHRs and other technologies for behavioral health providers. The goal is to provide these providers with the tools they need to provide access to treatment through tools such as telehealth, which can help overcome barriers related to lack of access to health IT and associated higher-level capabilities and efficiencies. These barriers also limit the integration of behavioral health data with primary care and other physical health entities, which can impact patient outcomes.