Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SAMHSA Publishes Goals

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has published several documents addressing the need for technology and data collection in their future plans. The first draft document “National Behavioral Health Quality Framework” identifies national priorities to help improve the delivery of behavioral health services.

What really concerns the agency is the tremendous need for collecting and analyzing data. Today, the limited and often piecemeal information and data generated by existing approaches does not provide the comprehensive array of information on behavioral health needed to adequately inform federal, state, and local experts in term of budget development, policy-making, and managing program operations.

The agency is taking an initial step to address these challenges and will release their “Behavioral Health Barometer” later this year that will highlight key behavioral health indicators of national significance. The agency realizes that their plans are ambitious and will require further discussions with relevant stakeholders and partners.

To view the draft document, go to The document is open for comment until July 1, 2011 with comments to be sent to with “Quality” in the subject line.

The second document “Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA’s Roles and Actions 2011-2014”concentrates on SAMHSA’s behavioral health IT initiatives and stresses the primary role and goals that SAMHSA will need to accomplish to achieve their total HIT effort.

The document has four goals:

• Goal 1—Develop the infrastructure for interoperable EHRs, including privacy, confidentiality, and data standards
• Goal 2—Provide incentives and create tools to facilitate the adoption of HIT and EHRs with behavioral health functionality in general and in specialty healthcare settings
• Goal 3—Deliver technical assistance to State HIT leaders, behavioral health and health providers, patients and consumers, and others to increase the adoption of EHRs and HIT with behavioral health functionality
• Goal 4—Enhance the capacity to exchange and analyze EHR data to assess quality of care and to improve patient outcomes

The agency is working with Federal, State and Territorial partners to create a holistic HIT strategy to include comprehensive recovery-oriented programs. The agency has collaborated with the VA, IHS, CMS, and DOD on a number of HIT initiatives.

To further help their partners, SAMHSA awarded a $3.2 million per year, 5 year contract to incorporate behavioral health clinical data standards so that states, territories, and other government jurisdictions have viable EHR options to offer providers that treat safety-net populations

To view the document, go to The publication Number is (SMA) 11-4629.