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SAMHSA News - November/December 2006, Volume 14, Number 6

Electronic Records: Transforming Behavioral Health Care

photo of Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H., Assistant Surgeon General, SAMHSA Acting Deputy Administrator

Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H.
Assistant Surgeon General
SAMHSA Acting Deputy Administrator

A Message from Dr. Broderick

The application of information technology to health care will be one of the most important medical advances of the 21st century. It has the potential to allow all segments of the health system to interact seamlessly and to facilitate high-quality care for consumers.

An integrated, nationwide system of electronic health records can reduce harmful medication errors, provide critical background to service providers, and offer consumers a "portable" medical history to carry with them wherever they go. Having such access empowers consumers to evaluate the quality of care provided, determine how best to use the resources they have, and manage their own treatment.

Privacy and confidentiality are essential. The exchange of health information must be accomplished through secure means and include appropriate authorizations from consumers. Such a system should not be constructed as a centralized government database, but rather as a means to connect and exchange health information within the framework of a secure network.

An integrated, secure, and privacy-protected electronic health records system is as valuable in the area of mental health and substance abuse as it is for other health conditions.

The 2001 terrorist attacks underscored the need for an electronic system that physicians could use to prescribe medications for people separated from their regular health care providers. Many patients in SAMHSA-regulated opioid treatment programs were cut off from their daily dose of methadone. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 accelerated the efforts of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to develop an Internet-based system to ensure continuity of care for patients in treatment for opioid dependence.

The use of technology is mentioned as a key goal in Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, the 2003 report of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Electronic mental health records may enhance quality by including clinical reminders, clinical practice guidelines for treatment and monitoring, tools for decision support, computer entry of health care instructions and prescription dosages, and patient safety alert systems.

As described in this issue of SAMHSA News, the Agency is committed to the goal of an integrated, privacy-protected, electronic health records system and to the larger goal of transforming behavioral health care in America to offer the hope of recovery to everyone affected by mental and addictive disorders. End of Article

Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H.
Assistant Surgeon General
SAMHSA Acting Deputy Administrator

See Part 1: Electronic Records: Health Care in the 21st Century

See Part 2: Electronic Records: Health Care in the 21st Century

System Requirements

See Also—Next Article »

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Inside This Issue


Electronic Records: Health Care in the 21st Century
Part 1
Part 2

System Requirements

From Dr. Broderick: Electronic Records: Transforming Behavioral Health Care

Database Tools To Assess Child Trauma

SAMHSA Launches Anti-Stigma Campaign

Lab Tests for Alcohol Abuse: SAMHSA Advisory

Who's Drinking? More Than Half Underage College Students

Misuse of Prescription Drugs: A National Concern

Nonmedical Use of Cough Medicine: DAWN Report

Young Adults & Prescription Pain Relievers

Stimulant Use Disorders: Evidence-Based Treatment Tools

Outpatient Treatment: TIPs 46 & 47

President Nominates Terry L. Cline

In Spanish: Anger Management Pubs

TIP 43: Erratum

SAMHSA News Index 2006
Index A–D
Index E–M
Index N–R
Index S–Y

SAMHSA News Information

SAMHSA News - November/December 2006, Volume 14, Number 6