EHR Interoperability Program Benefits Substance Use Treatment Providers and Ind

October 19, 2020

A study from the National Institutes of Health found that individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) are more susceptible to COVID-19 and related complications. The findings of the study suggest that healthcare providers should monitor patients who have SUDs more closely and develop action plans to prevent severe outcomes and infections. People with an opioid use disorder and those with a tobacco use disorder were most likely to become ill with COVID-19. Click here to read more about this study. The authors of the study analyzed non-identifiable electronic health records (EHR) of millions of patients to reach these conclusions. These important findings were made possible from EHR's being implemented, which is what the State of New Jersey's SUD Promoting Interoperability Program (PIP) offers to SUD treatment providers to increase the bandwidth and capacity for treatment.

Beginning in May 2019, the SUD PIP initiative supports behavioral health providers by implementing EHR programs and technology in their facilities to improve coordination among providers and the rest of the healthcare system by increasing access to EHRs and promoting interoperability among them. The $6 million grant is also helping providers connect with other providers through the New Jersey Health Information Network, which is a shared services platform that provides the infrastructure for electronic sharing of patient health information among healthcare providers, health information exchanges and state health data sources. There is no cost to participate in the program and it also provides financial reimbursements for achieving various program milestones.

"Data sharing is essential for ensuring that individuals receive the highest quality services not only for substance use disorders, but also mental illnesses and physical health conditions. This funding is greatly needed and will enable the state's behavioral health system to make significant strides in combating the opioid crisis, as well as other drug addictions and mental illnesses, which are also highly prevalent in our state and nation," said June Noto, Vice President of Information Technology (IT), Human Resources and Administrative Services, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA).

Nonprofit and for-profit organizations and government entities are eligible to join the program. However, the organizations must be Medicaid providers with adjudicated claims from Medicaid. Participants must also be licensed by the Department of Health's Office of Licensing to provide SUD treatment prior to the start of participation in the SUD PIP and must be receiving funding from the Department of Human Services' Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to provide treatment services through either cost-based contracts or the fee-for-service structure. Since the beginning of the program, among NJAMHAA members participating in the SUD PIP, is Somerset Treatment Services.

"We are really grateful to be part of the SUD PIP because it has enabled our agency to implement an EHR, even during a challenging time such as the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that the program really supports the work that are doing and we greatly appreciate it," said Barbara Schlichting, MSW, LCSW, LCADC, CPS, Executive Director of Somerset Treatment Services.

Jennifer D'Angelo, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Healthcare Division at the New Jersey Innovation Institute, will lead a workshop called "Why and How to Participate in the State's Substance Use Disorder Promoting Interoperability Program" at the NJAMHAA IT Project Annual Conference, No Fooling, IT Is Critical!, on October 21, 2020. She will discuss the program with interested providers and provide education about the value of this program. Please visit to access a brochure for the conference and to register.

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