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Behavioral Health HIE Launched in Arizona

April 28, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Two health IT vendors have powered the Behavioral Health Information Network of Arizona (BHINAZ), which is being publicized by its officials as the first statewide behavioral health information exchange (HIE) in the nation.

Driven by healthcare reform, BHINAZ is a collaborative initiative comprised of community stakeholders, behavioral health providers, public agencies, the Health Information Network of Arizona and consumers. Its common goal spans composition and capabilities required for a secure data exchange system that enables Arizona’s behavioral healthcare providers to access vital healthcare information at the point of care, its officials say. The Horsham, Pa.-based NextGen Healthcare Information Systems and its sister company, Mirth, a health IT vendor based in Costa Mesa, Calif., are powering the network.

BHINAZ was the brainchild of a consortium of behavioral health providers who are customers of Topaz Information Solutions, an authorized NextGen reseller and outsource partner that specializes in behavioral health and social services. Topaz, in partnership with NextGen Healthcare, built specific content within the technology platform to meet specific needs of behavioral health and social services organizations.

Leveraging NextGen’s ambulatory electronic health record (EHR) and HIE, and Mirth Connect— an open source application used for healthcare data integrations—BHINAZ has created the legal and operational framework necessary to protect confidentiality while helping to facilitate data exchange and streamline the process for behavioral health providers to obtain and manage patient consent, specifically as it relates to exchanging patient information, officials say. As a result, BHINAZ will provide clinicians throughout the state with a longitudinal patient history at the point of care, making information available when and where it's needed for medical care.

Operating under an “opt-in” consent management model, BHINAZ will ensure that data protected under Federal Law 42 CFR part 2 is not re-disclosed without proper consent, the organization says. Within the NextGen EHR, customized behavioral health consent management templates were created by working collaboratively with BHINAZ to include required content management language and capture electronic signatures at the point of care. Using these templates, information will be sent to the NextGen HIE, which then dictates specifically what data a given provider can access within the EHR. Patients and clients have the option to choose if they would like their data to be shared with the rest of the closed network at each BHINAZ location.

Information of all types may be exchanged—continuity of care documents (CCDs), lab results, dictated reports, discharge summaries and scanned documents as well as other key reports; BHINAZ supports the ability to transmit real-time alerts directly to the EHR or via email. This information is critical for clients in crisis that require immediate case management and follow-up after receiving crisis services or visiting an emergency room.

“Information vital to making complete, accurate and timely decisions regarding critical behavioral health care decisions is often not available, particularly in a mental health emergency,” Laura Young, executive director, BHINAZ, said in a statement. “With new levels of clinical data communication and the architected consent management services created by NextGen and Mirth, we now have access to both health and behavioral health patient data right at the point of care. This will transform the way we can help patients in times of need.”

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