The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced last week that it will award up to $13.2 million in health information technology (HIT) grants for mental and behavioral health care settings. These grants will further SAMHSA's strategic initiatives for HIT over the next years and contribute to the national goals set forth in the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan released by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) this September.
SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde stated,
Electronic health records improve quality, accountability, and cost effectiveness of health care services. Persons with behavioral health problems often have significant physical health issues as well. These grants are a critical down payment on the health information technology investment needed to ensure behavioral health service providers are fully interoperable with the general health system.
Among the awards are one-year $200,000 grants to 47 community health centers working to integrate primary care with behavioral health services. A $3.8M grant award to the National Council on Community Behavioral Health Care was also announced to assist state and community health centers with implementing EHRs.
Integrating behavioral health data with primary care data is critical to coordination of care. The new grants will be instrumental in developing the much-needed HIT infrastructure necessary for the exchange of behavioral health information among providers and health care facilities. SAMHSA is actively working with ONC to address policies and standards concerning the unique needs of behavioral HIT adoption and information exchange.
For more information and the list of grant recipients, visit SAMHSA's official news release here.