Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care

Kate Tipping | July 26, 2012

Many people with behavioral health disorders are disproportionally impacted by chronic primary care conditions including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Health IT and health information exchange can play a role in integrating behavioral health and primary care. However, for the most part, behavioral health providers and facilities do not meet the eligibility requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs established in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

To better understand how health IT can support the needs of individuals with behavioral disorders, ONC convened a roundtable of behavioral health experts to engage in a discussion on these issues.

Behavioral Health Roundtable

The Behavioral Health Roundtable took place on  July 24, 2012, and included public- and private-sector representatives including behavioral health providers, primary care providers, professional associations, system vendors, consumer advocates, and representatives from related federal health care agencies and committees.

The roundtable focused on the role of health IT in integrating behavioral health and primary care.  The objectives of the roundtable were to:

  • Understand the information needs of behavioral health and primary care providers and how those needs could be supported through EHR adoption and health information exchange, and
  • Determine priority areas for the behavioral health community when it comes to health IT.

The roundtable participants identified a number of key areas on which to focus future efforts. One of these areas was shared care plans. Severe mental and substance abuse disorders typically represent chronic conditions that are often associated with chronic physical illnesses. Care coordination helps ensure a patient’s needs and preferences for care are understood and that those needs and preferences are shared between providers, patients, and families as a patient moves from one health care setting to another. Sharing and exchanging data through the use of health IT was identified as a critical component of care coordination.

A summary report of findings from the roundtable will be published and posted on soon. We would like to thank everyone who participated!

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