The Lexicon defines an organized clinical approach to integrating behavioral health and primary care. This framework is built on several key components, including documentation of a unified care plan, treatment and referral activities, and supports for patients and families in shared electronic health records (EHRs) and disease registries. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (PDF - 1330 KB) (ONC) notes that health information technology (health IT) “enables and supports most of the functional components necessary for clinical integration of physical health and behavioral health.”1
The AHRQ Academy’s Guidebook of Professional Practices and Provider- and Practice-Level Competencies clearly highlight many of the ways health IT contributes to the effective delivery of integrated care. These include using the EHR to:
- Identify where a patient is in the integrated workflow (e.g., patient is with primary care clinician, behavioral health clinician, referral status),
- Support communication across all members of the care team and report performance data to payers and other organizations,
- Track referrals and communicate important health information between primary care and referral providers, and
- Support patient education (e.g., showing patient trends in clinical measures on screen, sharing visit summaries).
Registries are also very important for patients, including those with chronic health problems, to:
- Track patient progress over time,
- Provide reminders of the need for followup,
- Help adjust treatment as needed, and
- Support population health management.
A range of other forms of health IT can be used for important functions, such as:
- Email and apps to communicate between patients and the care team,
- Personal health records (PHRs) and apps to support patient self-management and to link to peer and other community support services,
- Health information exchanges (HIEs) to share information across wider networks of providers,
- State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to support medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders,
- Decision support tools (in the EHR or apps) to support evidence-based clinical care, and
- Data from EHRs, registries, and other sources to support ongoing quality improvement.