SAMHSA’s Efforts in Health Information Technology (Health IT)

Learn how SAMHSA supports health IT integration to strengthen the behavioral health workforce and improve patient care.

SAMHSA recognizes the potential of health IT to transform behavioral health systems.

SAMHSA’s health IT initiative aims to advance health systems integration, strengthen the workforce, and develop best practices. SAMHSA accomplishes these goals through various efforts, including health IT grants and a portfolio of health IT tools and programs.

Health IT Grants

SAMHSA offers the Targeted Capacity Expansion-Technology Assisted Care (TCE-TAC) grant program to behavioral health nonprofit organizations. This grant helps organizations explore and design innovative health IT to enhance their substance use disorder treatment services. In 2013, SAMHSA awarded a total of $3.6 million to 13 grantees to help ensure people in their communities have access to immediate care. To learn more about health IT innovations by TCE-TAC grantees, access SAMHSA’s webinar, Changing Lives Through Health IT: SAMHSA Grantee Experiences (58 minutes).

SAMHSA also funds several technology challenge grants. These grants challenge web developers to design and develop innovative technological solutions to behavioral health issues. Designs are judged using criteria presented in the challenge and awarded based on top scores. Under the Behavioral Health Information Technology and Standards (BHITS) project, SAMHSA awarded $77,000 in prizes to three challenge winners in 2015 and 2016. Learn more about SAMHSA’s grants.

Health IT Portfolio

Electronic Health Record (EHR) Boot Camp Series

Behavioral health professionals can participate in SAMHSA’s six-webinar EHR Boot Camp series. This series helps providers understand the benefits of EHRs and how to introduce EHRs in their organization. It also discusses issues related to patient privacy and security, challenges in health IT adoption, and strategies to overcome these barriers.

Quarterly Health IT Webinar Series

SAMHSA also hosts a quarterly Behavioral Health IT Webinar Series. The series highlights health IT innovation in the behavioral health field. The webinars direct practitioners to resources for implementing this technology in their practice.

Consent2Share

Consent2Share is a web-based application, or app, that patients can use to give their healthcare providers consent to share their personal health information across the health system. Consent2Share:

  • Works with existing EHR and health information exchange (HIE) systems
  • Lets patients choose which parts of their information can be shared with other providers
  • Complies with state and federal regulations regarding written consent for submission of patient preferences

SAMHSA has funded a series of grants to demonstrate the functionality of Consent2Share. Consent2Share will become publicly available through SAMHSA in early 2017.

Privacy and Confidentiality

SAMHSA compiled a list of frequently asked questions about applying substance use confidentiality regulations to health information exchange (HIE). These questions and answers help behavioral health providers and organizations understand how a federal statute called Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records, 42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 2—or 42 CFR Part 2—protects patient information. They also provide practical information on how 42 CFR Part 2 applies to various areas in behavioral health care.

For an overview of the legal implications of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and 42 CFR Part 2 for behavioral health providers and practitioners, access the webinar 42 CFR Part 2: Myths & Scenarios (60 minutes). This webinar is part of the Behavioral Health IT Webinar Series.

Last Updated: 10/12/2018