Maine receives grant to connect behavioral healthcare to HIE
The State of Maine and HealthInfoNet have received a $600,000 grant to help support electronic sharing of health records among behavioral health providers and general medical providers in Maine.
The grant was awarded by the Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS), which is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).
Maine was one of five states selected. The other states awarded include Kentucky, Illinois, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.
The grant will provide 25 behavioral healthcare organizations and 200 individual Maine providers with new ways to securely share medical records including use of the health information exchange (HIE). With patient consent, behavioral health providers will be able to share information electronically with general medical care providers also involved in their patients’ care. This should lead to better coordinated care and reduced medication errors for behavioral health patients.
“It may sound simple, but sharing information between these two communities of care has proved very difficult,” said Dennis King, CEO of Spring Harbor Hospital, an inpatient mental health facility in Southern Maine. “Because behavioral healthcare has historically been separated from general healthcare services,” he explained, “many electronic health record systems have evolved without integrating mental health and substance abuse information.” He said this project comes at a pivotal time as these electronic systems move towards maturity.
“This has incredible potential to both improve care quality and reduce costs associated with behavioral healthcare in Maine,” said Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and a HealthInfoNet board member. She added that numerous studies have shown that people with behavioral health conditions die younger and are more likely to develop chronic medical conditions than the general population.
In a recent blog post, Thomas Ansel, MD, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that Americans with major mental illness can die up to 32 years earlier than the general population. And while those with serious mental illness largely die of the same conditions as the general population – cancer, heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, and diabetes – they develop these conditions much earlier than everyone else. Furthermore, the latest from the NIMH put the annual direct and indirect costs associated with serious mental illness at $300 billion.