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We are not on an e-island (Stephen Wood)

July 28, 2008
by swood
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It is my strong belief that the Behavioral Healthcare industry must adopt generally accepted national standards as we move towards an Electronic Health Record (EHR). This blog will explore this topic and its many variations.

There should only be one EHR standard in our country and only one Personal Health Record (PHR) as well. To many in the behavioral health care industry this idea is considered to be a radical concept. “Behavioral Healthcare is different.” “What we do is completely different than main stream medical and we must treat behavioral health data differently.” I meet these folks and hear their arguments all the time. Unfortunately, all to often, this perspective finds receptive ears. I would like to ask those who read this blog to consider that there is another perspective and that perspective does not treat BH as an island within the healthcare industry, but rather as another component of the health care system.

My background over the past thirty-seven years is split between information systems and health care finance and between acute medical care and behavioral health care. I have experience in both the private and public sides of the industry. I have seen the industry from a payer perspective and from a provider perspective. Finally, I have split my career between provider, software vendor and consulting. To say I have a health care perspective (thus the name of my company--HealthCare Perspective, LLC) would be an understatement. I understand this industry from multiple perspectives, so my opinions are not limited or biased, but rather based on many years of practical experience. I am very fortunate to be married to a psychiatric nurse with a PhD in nursing who has many years as a clinician. So though I do not have clinical training, I do have a clinical perspective as well and an excellent sounding board for my thoughts.

For the past several years, I have been involved at the national level within HIMSS (Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society) focused on the development of HIE (Healthcare Information Exchange) and the development of RHIO (Regional Health Information Organizations). The past three to four years have seen tremendous movement in both of these areas. Not all has been positive, but that will come later. The industry is moving quickly towards the adoption of EHR on a national basis and the time has come for our industry, the healthcare industry, to adopt consistent data and interoperability standards so that we end up with a coherent way to exchange health care data.

So I would like readers of this blog to accept the basic premise that the Behavioral Healthcare industry needs to move to adopt national standards and not try to create itself as an island within the industry. I challenge all who disagree to please state your case in as specific terms as possible so we can have a fair and balanced exchange of ideas.

So with that introduction, I will start to explore the various aspects of this topic.

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Comments

The "island" mentality has its supporters for sure, but I fear behavioral healthcare could become left behind if it doesn't see itself as part of the overall IT "mainland."

This is also supported by our health insurance industry which pays differently for "physical" health issues than it does for "mental" health issues. Until we get parity with the insurance industry, it will remain reinforced as an island.

swood

Stephen A. Wood is a Fellow of the Healthcare Information and ...