Wanted: Mental Health IT Parity

It was 2008 when legislation to create parity between behavioral/mental health services and all other health services was signed into law. In 2009 the HITECT Act was signed, setting in motion all of the information technology changes necessary to support a health care system in sync with the digital age. One should have guessed, however that IT advances in behavioral/mental health would not keep pace with those made in the other medical disciplines. While facilities can receive incentive payments for the adoption of health information technology for the psychiatrists and nurse practitioners on staff, for most facilities the provider mix is far more complex including social workers (both at the MSW/CSW and doctorate level) as well as clinical psychologists (both PhD or PsyD) and they are as integral to care delivery as the MDs and NPs.

Has Your Doctor said “Hello Health”?

How many times have you said, “I wish I could just go online and make my doctor’s appointment.” How many of you actually have the privilege today to shoot your physician or health care provider an email and receive a response back from them. If you don’t have this privilege, how many of you are guilty of stalking them on Facebook or twitter and sending them a direct message? The norms of each of these behaviors we have yet to determine, as hospitals and physician practices struggle to craft social media policies and redefine the routes through which they are (legally protected and) comfortable communicating with patients. Insurance reimbursement for these activities is likely a distant fantasy. Electronic medical and health record systems implementation is a task with which many smaller provider organizations continue to grapple, falling behind on their timetables for achieving meaningful use. The very popular health care social medicine (#hcsm) tweet chat addressed this very question in its June 3, 2012 discussion.

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