Arizona’s three regional behavioral health authorities (RBHAs) have come together to support a statewide plan to integrate physical and behavioral health in Arizona’s statewide health information exchange (HIE), operated by Arizona Health-e Connection (AzHeC). Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care (Mercy Maricopa); Health Choice Integrated Care and Cenpatico Integrated Care have made a significant investment in a plan that will connect behavioral health providers to the statewide network and integrate access to physical and behavioral health information into workflows and clinical decision making.
The leaders of the three RBHAs support the plan because of the significant potential to improve health care and outcomes statewide. “We know that providing more complete information for clinical decision making will improve care coordination and patient outcomes, especially for our patients with physical and behavioral health conditions,” said Eddy Broadway, CEO of Mercy Maricopa.
Tom Betlach, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona’s Medicaid Agency that manages the three RBHAs, is very supportive of the statewide plan. “We need to improve the value of the care delivered to all AHCCCS members, and one clear way to do that is for all of a member’s providers to share information and better coordinate care,” Betlach said.
The plan aims to make participation simple and easy for all community providers, with one single connection and one fee structure for all community providers. AzHeC eliminated participation fees for community providers in the fall of 2015, and the elimination of provider participation fees has been extended to community behavioral health providers. “The more that we can encourage participation in and connectivity to The Network, the more patient information that will be available for all providers,” Kotrys said. “It sounds simple and is simple, but this is ultimately how we will enable better care coordination and clinical decision making.”
The essential challenge in integrating physical and behavioral health data is the complex statutory framework that governs these two types of data. There are three basic sets of laws that apply: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the federal substance abuse treatment privacy laws (42 CFR Part 2 in the Code of Federal Regulations), and Arizona’s health information organization (HIO) law. AzHeC’s integrated HIE will employ a layered, scalable process that meets all state and federal legal requirements for patient notification and consent while affording all patient rights under the laws.
This plan also includes deploying a statewide crisis portal that can provide access to critical patient information in an emergency. AzHeC has developed the crisis portal and has provided training for behavioral health providers in central Arizona. Training for behavioral health providers in southern and northern Arizona will be completed in the coming months, with a phased roll-out of the crisis portal planned by region.
Behavioral health providers who join The Network will have full access to all Network services:
- Bidirectional Exchange – A bidirectional connection between The Network and a Network participant’s certified electronic health record (EHR)
- Provider and Payer Portals – web-based portals that provide access to clinical information and beneficiary clinical information one record at a time
- Direct Secure Email – HIPAA compliant, encrypted, standards-based Direct Secure Messaging between Network participants, typically used to receive alerts and notifications
- Alerts and Notifications – Real-time alerts and notifications on events such as a hospital admission-discharge-transfer or the receipt of a specific lab or test result
- Public Health Reporting – A single connection or gateway expected to go live in late 2016 that will allow Network participants to submit state and federally required public health information from their certified EHR
- eHealth Exchange – The secure electronic exchange of patient information via the national eHealth Exchange network
Behavioral health providers are encouraged to join and to use the services of The Network. To join or to learn more about The Network, please call Beth Scully at (602) 688-7216 or email@example.com.