Tech to Benefit Behavioral Health

Many experts in the field are in favor of integrating behavioral health treatments into physical healthcare to more effectively treat the whole person. This topic was discussed at the National Press Club on June 7th highlighting the publication “Health Affairs” June thematic issue devoted to issues related to the delivery of more effective behavioral health treatments.

One paper in the June issue is devoted to the effective use of monitoring prescriptions within states to more effectively deal with drug abuse issues. The use of prescription drug monitoring is showing promise in reining in the epidemic of prescription opioid overdose.

The study “Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs are Associated with Sustained Reductions in Opioid Prescribing by Physicians”, authored by Yuhua Bao, Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine along with several coauthors, mentions that all states except for Missouri have either implemented or upgraded drug monitoring programs or have enacted legislation to proceed to develop databases.

The development of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) has shown that by using databases to monitor drugs in states, a 30 percent reduction in the rate for prescribing Schedule II opioids has occurred.

To explore how the use of health IT could help deal with the challenges of treating behavioral health, an analysis and commentary paper was published in the June issue, titled “Behavioral Health Information Technology: From Chaos to Clarity”.

The paper authored by Piper A. Ranallo, Chair of the National Mental Health Informatics Workgroup and Founder of Six Aims for Behavioral Health along with her coauthors, discusses in detail the key gaps in health IT relative to behavioral health.

The paper points out that the use of health IT has been shown to deliver safe, high-quality, and cost effective care, however, it has been found that its application to behavioral healthcare has been slow.

One of the most important gaps in upgrading and using more health IT concerns the inability to use clinical information systems. These systems would help to effectively use electronic health systems so all health information is captured in a structured and standardized format.

The lack of standardization has resulted in vendors developing EHRs for behavioral health using proprietary information models and nonstandard structuring of clinical data. So far, there has been no systematic effort to include behavioral health content in SNOMED-CT, a system presenting a standardized multilingual vocabulary of clinical terminology.

It looks very promising to use telemedicine to deliver behavioral healthcare. Evidence suggests that behavioral health psychotherapies delivered via the internet are comparable in effectiveness to in-person psychotherapy.

It has also been found that the majority of mhealth or eHealth methods have not been empirically tested in research trials for their effectiveness. Also, there are other key barriers to implementing ehealth and mhealth technology in behavioral health which is related to regulatory and privacy issues especially for data collected on mobile applications.


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