Behavioral Health Information Exchange

Since 2010, we have been collaborating with behavioral health providers to find better ways to leverage health IT to improve care coordination for individuals with behavioral health conditions.

In 2012, after a series of community meetings held across Colorado, we released a report called Supporting Integration of Behavioral Health Care through Health Information Exchange (PDF). The report includes research findings as well as feedback from both behavioral health professionals and patients about health information exchange (HIE).

Today, we convene a workgroup that is striving to overcome barriers to behavioral health information exchange so that patients with co-occurring physical and behavioral health issues are treated more holistically, resulting in better outcomes. The workgroup is currently focused on creating a shared, statewide release of information form and implementing granular consent for HIE.

Opportunities for Improving Behavioral Health Integration

Although behavioral health is a critical component of a person’s overall health, mental health and substance use treatment information is currently not integrated with physical health information. This creates significant gaps in health records, potentially leading to fragmented, lower quality care.

Studies have shown that the average life expectancy for individuals with serious mental illness ranges from 13 to 30 years less than the rest of the population.[1] Much of this can be attributed to fragmented, inconsistent and episodic care. Individuals requiring behavioral health services have a unique need for integrated care due to frequent use of the health care system and a greater need to coordinate care among different types of providers.

A study done by JEN Associates found that those with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) have a disproportionate use of medical services compared to those without SMI. The results demonstrated that those with SMI have 3.5 times higher rates of emergency room visits, four times the rate of primary care visits, and five times the rate of specialist visits. In addition, those with SMI have high rates of co-occurring mental and medical disorders. This group is nearly three times more likely to have diabetes and three times more likely to have chronic respiratory disease compared to the general population.

Oftentimes, health care providers providing treatment to individuals with behavioral health disorders lack important clinical information about their patients that contributes to adverse drug interactions and other medical complications. According to the Behavioral HIE Project's research, the vast majority of individuals and health care providers in the behavioral health community believe that better information sharing is needed to improve patient safety and quality of care.

Health Information Exchange for Behavioral Health Professionals

Thirty-nine behavioral health centers with more than 60 office locations are connected, or are in the process to connect to our HIE network.

For more information about behavioral health participation on the CORHIO HIE, please visit the Our Services section of this website.  

[1] Colton CW, Manderscheid RW. Congruencies in increased mortality rates, years of potential life lost, and causes of death among public mental health clients in eight states. Prev Chronic Dis [serial online] 2006 Apr. URL: