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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

National Council Submits Comments on HHS Health IT Strategic Plan

February 12, 2015 | Health Information Technology | Comments
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Late last year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an updated draft of its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Last week, the National Council submitted comments on the plan, urging HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) to work to expand incentive payments to behavioral health providers for the adoption of electronic health records.

The Strategic Plan laid out objectives to increase the involvement of providers not participating in the EHR incentive program, including behavioral health providers. The Strategic Plan, however, offered little insight as to how the ONC would accomplish such a task. The National Council urged that “to have an effective, interoperable health information exchange, behavioral health care settings must receive meaningful use payments and technical assistance to afford EHRs and provide quality, coordinated care to patients.”

Additionally, the Strategic Plan discussed the role of Health IT in improving and strengthening health care delivery. The National Council pointed out that 70% of the population served by behavioral health providers has chronic, co-occurring medical, surgical conditions that mandate quick coordinated care.  Achieving a stronger health care delivery system for this population will be challenging without the inclusion of behavioral health providers into the health IT incentive program.

Finally, the National Council was supportive of language ensuring the safety and security of personal and private patient information, expressly naming mental health and substance use treatment as “sensitive in nature”. Data segmentation standards leverage existing information technology to resolve current problem and many other concerns around sharing a wide range of patient health information. The National Council is excited to see this technology widely available and operationalized by all providers in the near future.

Read our full comments here.