Breaking Down Barriers to Sharing Behavioral Health Information 

Sharing Protected Health Information (PHI) is an important part of delivering quality health care. However, physical and behavioral health (BH) providers in Michigan still struggle to navigate the laws that govern the exchange of PHI, particularly when sharing BH information.

Figure 1: Prior to the start of our training, over half of Michigan providers participating needed help understanding the complexity of consent

In 2019, Altarum’s team of public health professionals, BH specialists, regulatory analysts, graphic designers, and implementation experts partnered with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to increase information sharing between physical and BH providers.

With funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, we created ‘The PHI Consent Tool’ and its companion video series to help payers and providers navigate confusing State and federal legislation:

We also updated MDHHS resources, delivered training webinars, answered stakeholder questions, and kept payers and providers informed about key legislative changes.

Finally, we launched a statewide survey and held dialogue sessions to reveal what motivates payers and providers to share BH information electronically, what stops them from sharing, and what resources they need to increase sharing.

Through this work, our program uncovered:

  • What organizations, job roles, and geographic regions need the most help,
  • What electronic systems are being used, which are not, and how that differs between organizations,
  • What motivates and stops people from sharing information electronically and what could help,
  • The areas where education, training, and resources are needed most, and what investments are likely to be most impactful.

Among behavioral health clinicians, physical health providers, payers, and healthcare leaders in Michigan, our program significantly increased:

  • Knowledge around rules and regulations that govern sharing PHI
  • Confidence in navigating the rules and regulations
  • Confidence in using the MDHHS 5515 standardized consent form,
  • Satisfaction with the resources available in MI to help navigate information sharing, and
  • Frequency of electronic information sharing.

Contact us today to learn more about our work, results, and recommendations:

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