Yes, you can share behavioral health data!
To help guide you in sharing data, we have pulled together the legal and practical information you need in a Behavioral Health Data Sharing Toolkit.
Feel free to jump right to the data sharing templates if you’d like. Or dig deeper into the State and Federal legalities. If you’re trying to build the case for data sharing, you might want to look at the case studies for inspiration (and support!). You might also want to pause and review the data systems section to see about electronic health record (EHR) and clinical information system (CIS) recommendations.
What You’ll Find in the Toolkit
CALIFORNIA CONTEXT: California is engaged in a number of initiatives and pilots that have integration of physical and behavioral health care as a focus of that work.
DATA SYSTEMS: Developing the technology for appropriate data systems that support and facilitate the transfer of patient information across providers and systems is a central feature of an integrated approach to care.
LEGAL: The legal framework for sharing behavioral health data depends on State and Federal laws and regulations.
TEMPLATES: Templates and examples of forms that have been developed by others working in integrated care as well as from practices that are working cross system at coordinating care of patients
CASE STUDIES: In the initiatives described here, mental health treatment data are made available to physical health providers, although each initiative is using a different methodology for data sharing and patient consent.
NATIONAL CONTEXT: List of resources, projects and organizations that we believe are doing important work that intersects and helps contextualize the issues surrounding the sharing of data.
Background on the Toolkit
The integration of behavioral health and physical health is quickly becoming the new gold standard of care for patients and the aspiration of many providers and in many different care settings. Nonetheless, it is still a challenge for health care providers to know when it’s legal to share information. Confusion remains over the various laws, statutes and regulations governing the sharing of confidential information, particularly when it concerns sensitive behavioral health information. In some cases, this can lead to a reluctance to share important clinical treatment information, even when it is legal. We have put together this toolkit to help support your work to deliver the best care for clients and patients. While it is certainly not intuitive, it is in fact possible to share data related to behavioral health issues in California. We hope that the information is useful in your work.
The information included in the toolkit includes direct text where helpful and builds from the California Healthcare Foundation report prepared by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP: Fine Print: Rules for Exchanging Behavioral Health Information in California.