Health IT for Patients and Families

Learn how health information technology helps you manage and track your behavioral health condition, and coordinate care between providers.

Benefits to You and Your Family

Health information technology, or health IT, makes it easier to track your behavioral health information and securely share it will your providers and caregivers. Health IT tools are also a great resource for recognizing behavioral health issues and monitoring your mental and/or substance use disorder. Health IT also offers you these benefits:

  • Secure access to your personal health information
  • Easy care coordination between providers
  • Access to remote care from your home
  • Self-management tools for you and your caregivers

How can you use Health IT?

Health IT is secure and accessible. It includes any technology that helps you access, manage, and pay for your health care. These technologies include smartphone applications (apps), electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth services, and online patient portals.

Smartphone and Online Apps

Apps available on your smartphone or online make it easy to play an active role in your health care. You can download apps that help you monitor your behavioral health and share information with your doctor, therapist, or peer coach at your next visit or when you need support.

Apps are also available that screen for behavioral health conditions, such as depression. Apps can guide you on the next steps to take or help you track your progress toward recovery.

Learn more about SAMHSA’s apps and how they help you and your family stay healthy.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

In treatment, you often will have to coordinate with multiple providers. EHRs are secure electronic versions of traditional paper medical records. With your consent, EHRs can share your health information with your providers and practitioners. This makes it easier for you to coordinate care between multiple providers and helps ensure they have your latest health information.

If you move or switch insurance companies, EHRs accurately transfer your medical history to your new healthcare provider. This allows your new provider to make decisions about your care, especially in a medical emergency or crisis. Patient privacy laws and regulations ensure your personal health records stay secure and confidential.


For people who live in rural areas or who can’t get to the doctor’s office for other reasons, telemedicine makes it possible to receive healthcare advice from home. Telemedicine involves connecting with your doctor or counselor over the phone or through video to discuss your medication and receive therapy. Many behavioral health providers, including psychiatrists and addiction therapists, are using telemedicine to have sessions with patients at their convenience. Ask your provider if he or she offers these remote healthcare options.

Patient Portals

Managing your health takes place both inside and outside a healthcare appointment. Patient portals are secure websites where you can access your personal health information and manage your behavioral healthcare. Many insurance companies offer patient portals or similar applications. Check with your health insurer to learn what’s available to you.

Learn more about SAMHSA’s efforts to support you in managing your behavioral health condition through health IT.

Last Updated: 01/04/2017