Many behavioral health care organizations lack sufficient funds to implement and maintain electronic health record systems and other health IT tools, according to a report by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, Modern Healthcare reports.
For the report, the National Council surveyed more than 500 community mental health and addiction treatment organizations.
When asked about the biggest barrier to the implementation of health IT:
- 30% of surveyed organizations cited upfront costs; and
- 12% cited ongoing maintenance costs (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 7/11).
When asked why they would want to implement electronic health record systems:
- 36% of surveyed organizations said they believe EHR systems will improve communication and care coordination;
- 33% said they believe EHR technology will boost care quality and streamline operations; and
- 32% said they believe EHR implementation will prepare their organization for changes in the health care delivery system (National Council release, 6/25).
Behavioral health organizations are not eligible for meaningful use incentive payments, but about 2% of the surveyed organizations said they would be able to meet the requirements of the program. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
The report called for Congress to pass the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S 539), which would allow behavioral health care organizations to qualify for meaningful use incentive payments.
The National Council also recommended that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT ensure that behavioral health care organizations can participate in state health information exchanges (Modern Healthcare, 7/11).