Missing Behavioral EHR Data Hinders Patients’ Healthcare

Sharing of behavioral health patient data has been a conflicting issue since the healthcare technology reforms started in the country. Under these reforms providers are required to implement Behavioral  Health EHRs for data sharing with healthcare stakeholders, including physicians from different specialties.

Behavioral health providers have been reluctant to share electronic records of patients with non-psychiatric physicians. This is because of the patients who hesitate to share their records from fear of privacy breach.

This American Medical News reported that most of the psychiatric records are not stored with rest of the data of mental health patients. This fear comprises the healthcare of psychiatric patients that has prompted groups like American Psychiatric Association to voice their concerns about restricted EHR data.

Non-psychiatric physicians emphasize on sharing of psychiatric data because it gives them a holistic view of the patients’ health, which will help them in creating a well-informed diagnosis and treatment plan. This is particularly necessary when physicians recommend medications that can react with mental health medicines.

Professor Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Adam Kaplin said, “The psychiatric illnesses patients have play a huge bearing on their medical illnesses. As an example, whether or not you have depression following a heart attack is as big as or bigger than any other risk factor as to whether you are going to die in the year following that heart attack.”

The U.S. News and World Report conducted a survey on data sharing by 2,000 psychiatrists from 18 different hospitals. The survey showed that patients of psychiatrists who shared electronic records with non-psychiatric physicians were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within the same month.

The need is to address the fears of patients regarding the privacy and security of the sensitive details of their mental health data. Moreover, taboo surrounding mental health problems should be dealt with, so that patients allow psychiatrists to share their data.