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Promoting Integration through Shared Data

Effective treatment for individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders requires sharing information across systems and across agencies. Data sharing supports integrated services by facilitating communication and collaboration among organizations needed for:

  • Integrated screening and assessment
  • Holistic treatment planning
  • Coordinated service delivery and continuity of care

Individuals with co-occurring disorders may be asked to give permission so that agencies can share:

  • Treatment plans and goals
  • Service referrals
  • Insurance and benefit status
  • Information about medication
  • Follow-up services

Data sharing also supports planning, evaluation and quality assurance activities by providing information and analysis on the following:

  • The prevalence of co-occurring disorders
  • Service utilization across systems
  • Program performance and costs
  • Individual outcomes and costs

Such data is essential for effective policymaking. It may support the identification of effective treatments and best practices. It also provides key data on the nature and extent of co-occurring disorders and helps public officials identify:

  • Unmet treatment and prevention needs
  • Set priorities
  • Anticipate workforce demands
  • Determine appropriate resource allocations

Overcoming silos

Data related to mental and substance use disorders are often collected and owned by separate systems of care. Silos of information inhibits effective and efficient coordination of services, continuity of care, and assessment of treatment outcomes and costs, resulting in suboptimal care.

States integrating substance abuse and mental health services have undertaken a variety of activities to promote shared data capacity, including:

  • Linking data from different systems
  • Adopting data standards
  • Enhancing data captured by management information systems

There are a variety of federal initiatives relating to data sharing, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Initiatives to share data must take into account confidentiality requirements regarding behavioral health information.

While increasing data sharing capacity is not enough to integrate care, it does create important infrastructure to promote integration treatment for individuals with co-occurring disorders.

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