New Report Offers Strategies to Integrate Behavioral & Physical Health Through HIE

Date: April 4th, 2012Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Behavioral Health

Consumers, Health Care Professionals and Behavioral Health Stakeholders Provide Input on Concerns, Opportunities of Exchanging Behavioral Health Information

According to a newly released CORHIO report, over 97 percent of the Colorado behavioral health community surveyed agrees that the ability to securely exchange behavioral and physical health information electronically across providers will add value to the health care system. In case of emergency, or transfer between care facilities, providers can have appropriate, real-time access to their patients’ medical records ensuring fewer treatment errors and costly duplication of tests.

However, nationally, the adoption and use of the health information exchange (HIE) by the behavioral health community continues to lag behind other medical providers due to policy and practice barriers, and concerns about access to and vulnerability of information.

Collaborating With Consumers & Health Care Professionals to Understand Needs

In an effort to improve integration of behavioral and physical health, CORHIO partnered with a multi-stakeholder behavioral health Steering Committee, and solicited feedback from communities across Colorado, to create a report with recommendations and future strategies for effective inclusion of behavioral health in HIE. The report was written as part of the CORHIO Behavioral Health Information Exchange Project with support from Rose Community Foundation.

To solicit information for the report, CORHIO helped facilitate six meetings in communities across Colorado (Alamosa, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango and Sterling), which were chosen to represent a broad cross-section of perspectives and attitudes regarding HIE. A total of 124 consumers, providers, and other behavioral health stakeholders were in attendance to discuss the concerns, opportunities and priorities of exchanging behavioral health information. The meetings took place in collaboration with community mental health centers and other behavioral health community organizations, so participants could feel comfortable and have open and honest dialogue.

Consumers Deserve "Whole Health Care" - Not Fragmented Care

“We recognize the importance of behavioral health providers being a part of the state HIE, because it is important that Colorado residents receive whole health care instead of the current, fragmented and incomplete care given today,” said Steering Committee member Moe Keller, vice president of public policy and advocacy of Mental Health America of Colorado (MHAC). “CORHIO’s behavioral health report provides us several solid recommendations on how best to successfully integrate behavioral health with physical health through information sharing.”

A few key points that came out of the community discussions include:

  • Consumers expressed significant interest in having access to their health data within the HIE.
  • Both providers and patients expressed significant concerns, such as privacy issues and inappropriate use of information.
  • Behavioral health stakeholders agree that better information sharing can lead to better outcomes for individuals and populations receiving behavioral health care.
  • Participants expressed they would have more comfort with information sharing if there were more choice about which information would be shared with whom. Current models of all-in or all-out information sharing does not seem to meet the needs of this community.
  • Across all six events, only one participant felt that better information sharing was not needed.

Privacy & Security a Top Priority

CORHIO and its partners continue to place emphasis on the key underpinnings of patient protection, safeguarding patient privacy, ensuring confidentiality, and encouraging trust between and amongst providers and consumers.

Later this year, CORHIO will work with project Steering Committee members as well as other stakeholder organizations to implement the recommendations described in this report, including consumer, provider and policymaker education, policy advocacy, and appropriate changes to HIE operations.

Report Download:

Supporting Integration of Behavioral Health Care through Health Information Exchange (PDF)

More Information: