Behavioral Health Clinical Quality Measures

Why Focus on Behavioral Health?

Integration of care enabled by health IT has great potential to improve health outcomes for individuals with behavioral health problems. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) convened behavioral health stakeholders for a roundtable focused on using health IT to integrate behavioral health and primary care. The Behavioral Health Roundtable Report [PDF - 397 KB] highlights the discussion of essential elements of care integration between behavioral health and primary care settings.

Behavioral health problems include substance abuse or misuse, alcohol and drug addiction, serious psychological distress, suicide, and mental and substance use disorders. An estimated  of Americans age 18 and older are living with a mental health disorder in any given year, and  will have a mental health disorder over the course of their lifetime. In addition, an estimated  of Americans are in need of drug or alcohol abuse treatment. Patients suffering from serious mental illness have increased rates of  , which results in a reduced life expectancy of 8-17 years.

To find more information about ONC initiatives that support behavioral health, please refer to the Behavioral Health & Issue Brief [PDF - 302 KB]

How are Behavioral Health Providers Using

The rate of health IT adoption among behavioral health care providers is minimal.  The   report discussed barriers to adoption of health IT - noting upfront cost, consent, and sustainability as primary deterrents. Although  under the Health Information Technology for Economic Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, the benefits of adoption, exchange and integration of electronic health records (EHR) are not limited to a particular group or market. For instance, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners may be eligible for the meaningful use, however, other behavioral health providers including psychologist, clinical social workers, community mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers, substance abuse treatment programs, opioid treatment programs, licensed therapists, etc. are not eligible. ONC recognizes the importance of integrating health IT into behavioral health settings and supports the following initiatives to provide resources to the behavioral health community:

Content last reviewed on May 9, 2019