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Health information exchanges (HIEs) are making inroads in facilitating data exchange of behavioral health information, according to two featured “bright spots” released this week by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

South Carolina Health Information Exchange (SCHIEx), covering 1,322,000 patient lives, has been focused on leveraging the HIE to improve the integration of mental and physical data and increase the number of mental health providers participating in the HIE, according to one brief. SCHIEx is using a “communities of care” approach to bring on board an anchor provider, such as a hospital or large provider group with an extensive referral network that includes mental health providers, rather than reaching out to mental health providers independently. The providers then are trained together in the operations and benefits of being part of the HIE. 

“This approach brings all of the stakeholders to the table to demonstrate how each member of the community can benefit from the participation of the others," ONC points out. "It also showcases all of the different providers that contribute to a patient’s care, which can stimulate communication and coordination between stakeholders."

SCHIEx is also working with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health to bring mental health providers on board.  

Arkansas’ state HIE, the State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE) covering 1,977,934 patients, is also reaching out to behavioral health providers, another brief notes. One target group is Arkansas Medicaid providers offering Rehabilitative Services for Persons with Mental Illness. Because many of them do not use EHRs, SHARE is initially focused on increasing these providers’ access to the HIE’s portal and secure messaging. Share has also developed a “robust” onboarding process using a “train the trainer” approach for mental health providers to increase their familiarization with data exchange and utilization of the HIE.

The HIE is working on obtaining more patient consent so that data on substance abuse can be shared and is seeking more funding to create a separate system for storing and maintaining behavioral health data, according to ONC.