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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health IT Coalition Launches Website

November 18, 2014 | Health Information Technology | Comments
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This week, the Behavioral Health Information Technology (BHIT) Coalition launched a website highlighting important legislation to include mental health and addiction providers in electronic health records (EHR) incentive programs. The BHIT Coalition, of which the National Council is a founding member, provides analysis on a number of bills that would include behavioral health providers as a part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, providing financial incentives for the adoption of EHRs.

The HITECH Act created financial incentive programs for providers and hospitals to adopt and implement EHR systems in their practices to improve patient care. Mental health and addiction providers were left out of the program in 2009 and have since been working to be included. The BHIT Coalition aims to assist Congressional staff with a thorough understanding of current legislation, policy, consumer stories and fact-based information related to behavioral health EHRs.

“Health IT is critical to care coordination. While some health providers already use electronic health records to address the shockingly high mortality rates among people living with mental illnesses and addictions, far too few can muster the financial resources to do so. That’s why we need Congress to enact the bipartisan Behavioral health IT Act, and this site supports their decision making,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. “It’s a one-stop shop for staff to understand how EHRs will work in the behavioral health field and how these bills affect their constituents.”

“We are very thankful for the leadership Senator Portman and Representative Murphy have shown in introducing and supporting Behavioral Health IT legislation. We will never achieve integration of physical health and mental health for the significant number of Americans who have co-morbidities unless we provide the funding for behavioral health providers to adopt the technology they need to share clinical data with physical health providers,” said Kevin Scalia, Executive Vice President of Netsmart, a founding member of the coalition.

“We are pleased to join with our national coalition partners today to launch www.bhitcoalition.org. Mental and behavioral health providers must be part of an effective HIT system that supports mind/body and health” said Laurel Stine, Director of Congressional Affairs of the American Psychological Association.

The National Council will continue working with the BHIT Coalition and congressional champions to promote behavioral health IT legislation in the next Congress. Stay tuned to Capitol Connector for more information on behavioral health IT.