Improving Service Coordination and Reducing Mental Health Disparities Through Adoption of Electronic Health Records

B. McGregor
D. Mack
G. Wrenn
R. S. Shim
K. Holden
D. Satcher

Abstract

Despite widespread support for removing barriers to the use of electronic health records (EHRs) in behavioral health care, adoption of EHRs in behavioral health settings lags behind adoption in other areas of health care. The authors discuss barriers to use of EHRs among behavioral health care practitioners, suggest solutions to overcome these barriers, and describe the potential benefits of EHRs to reduce behavioral health care disparities. Thoughtful and comprehensive strategies will be needed to design EHR systems that address concerns about policy, practice, costs, and stigma and that protect patients' privacy and confidentiality. However, these goals must not detract from continuing to challenge the notion that behavioral health and general medical health should be treated as separate and distinct. Ultimately, utilization of EHRs among behavioral health care providers will improve the coordination of services and overall patient care, which is essential to reducing mental health disparities.