Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SAMHSA Seeks Applications

On February 12th, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within HHS, issued a request for applications for “Enhancing Opioid Treatment Program Patient Continuity of Care through Data Interoperability” (OTP-CoC) grants.

SAMHSA wants to provide more resources to Opioid Treatment Programs (OTP). The goal is have the OTPs develop EHRs to fulfill regulatory requirements, achieve certified status, and become interoperable with other patient health record systems.

As behavioral health service providers, OTPs face challenges in recordkeeping systems as they must conform to federal confidentiality rules which significantly restrict the distribution of patient health information. Also OTPs face special needs to continue care to patients displaced by disasters.

OTPs have been slow to develop and adopt integrated EHR systems. There are few multi-state and multi-provider EHR software systems. Many OTPs are using EHR systems developed and customized to provide electronic medical systems for just one OTP.

In addition, the majority of programs are patient self-pay and have not historically accessed either private insurance benefits or Medicaid benefits for patient care coverage. Since that is the case, only a few OTPs have explored or taken steps to achieve “meaningful use” incentives under the HITECH Act. OTP as a subset of behavioral healthcare provide is going to require substantial assistance to migrate to interoperable EHR systems.

It is anticipated that grant funding will be $1 million to provide for up to 20 awards with an award amount up to $50,000 each. The funding will be used to:

·        Adopt, enhance, or upgrade certified EHRs and software systems
·         Assure continuity of care and inter-OTP information sharing during disasters
·        Improve linkages to primary care providers including FQHCs
·        Modify systems to enable interaction with  HIEs and PDMPs
·        Adopt new certified EHR systems or modify to achieve interoperability and ONC certification
·        Train staff on the use of the system

Eligible applicants can be domestic public and private non-profit OTPs. There are 1,260 SAMHSA certified OTPs so an estimated 593 programs are eligible to apply.

To view the RFA, go to or go to published February 12, 2013. Applications are due April 3, 2013. For questions, email Nichole Smith at