Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

4 Steps to Prepare for Hie Participation

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

4 Steps to Prepare for Hie Participation

Article excerpt

The benefits for a behavioral healthcare organization tying into a health information exchange (HIE) are clear and practical. The path to being ready for participation in an HIE, however, is a bit more complicated.

The quick and efficient sharing of patient health information with electronic health records (EHRs) makes it easier to provide a betterinformed, higher quality of care, which, in turn, allows behavioral health providers to be ideally positioned for a value-based payment model. Such a smooth operation requires significant groundwork first, though, as providers need to address items ranging from their existing information infrastructure to workflows to state and federal privacy policies and laws.

Melissa Kotrys is CEO of the Arizona Health-e Connection (AzHeC), a nonprofit, public-private partnership that drives the adoption of health information technology (HIT) and operates Arizona's statewide HIE that encapsulates multiple smaller networks. The statewide network includes 189 total participants, including 64 behavioral health providers, that exchange patient data.

Mark Belanger is director of advisory services for the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC), a Waltham, Mass.-based not-for-profit that works with healthcare providers in the New England region to implement EHRs and HIEs. MAeHC currently is working to unite a group of 42 organizations in New Hampshire and formalize their structure for helping patients in three counties. In MAeHC's home state of Massachusetts, meanwhile, the organization has engaged with the state's departments of mental health and public health to provide technical assistance to 14 certified community behavioral health clinics that are preparing to shift away from a fee-for-service system to a hybrid payment model.

1 Basic change management

Regardless of the type of patient data management system a provider is using, any kind of shift to a new system should not be taken lightly, Belanger says.

"Any organization in any sector of our economy that has never gone through moving from one electronic system to another or from paper to an electronic system has to learn an application and be trained up in using computers and has to adjust the way they do their business in their clinical work to match what's possible with computers," Belanger says. "That's not to be underestimated. It's very difficult."

Kotrys recommends providers start by reviewing their existing technology to determine whether it can support an HIE connection. …

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