Expand EHR utilization in MH/SUD

Parity, Coverage, & Equitable Access
Research & Technology
social determinants of health
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Coverage & Standards
Value-based Care
Measurement-based Care
Federal department
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house committees
House Energy and Commerce Committee
senate committees
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee


Congress should pass legislation like the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coordination Act to advance adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) among mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) providers.[1][2]


More than 95 percent of medical/surgical hospitals utilize EHRs, but only half of psychiatric hospitals do.[3] An important contributor to this gap was that MH/SUD providers were not eligible for $35 billion in federal assistance to adopt EHRs under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 Act.[4]

Lower EHR utilization by MH/SUD providers causes large systemic issues that negatively affect individuals with MH/SUDs in profound, yet underappreciated, ways. For instance, EHRs enhance efficiency and information sharing and have become integral to health care delivery in America. MH/SUD providers who lack EHRs are inhibited in care integration because their paper-based systems cannot interact with physical health providers who have modern EHRs.[1] Additionally, paper-based records are easily lost or damaged. EHRs have also become critical to measuring patient outcomes, advancing value-based care, and conducting clinical research.[5] Thus, it is essential to expand EHR adoption among MH/SUD providers to improve the quality of care and create a modern MH/SUD delivery system.

Congress must act to address its failure to include many MH/SUD providers in previous efforts to advance EHR adoption by passing legislation like the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coordination Act, which would dedicate $20 million a year over five years to assist MH/SUD providers in adopting EHRs.[1][2]


1. Laura Lovett. “Lawmakers Propose New Bill That Would Help Fund EHRs for Behavioral Health Providers.” Behavioral Health Business. Last Updated August 3, 2023.

2. Behavioral Health Information Technology Coordination Act. S.2688 (Mullin-Cortez Masto) and H.R.5116 (Matsui-Johnson), 118th Congress (2023-2024). Last Accessed September 5, 2023.

3. Bailey Bryant. “Improving Integrated Care, What It Could Mean for Behavioral Providers.” Behavioral Health Business. Last Updated April 2, 2021.

4. Chris Larson. “$250M Proposal Takes Another Stab at Incentivizing EHR Adoption in Behavioral Health.” Behavioral Health Business. Last Updated April 13, 2022.

5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Advantages of Electronic Health Records. Last Accessed August 17, 2023.