SAMHSA Offers Up to $25 Million to Expand IT Use in Behavioral Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in October announced it would award up to 29 new grants, totaling up to $25 million over three years, to expand use of health information technology to increase access to behavioral health services. This program will leverage technology to improve access and coordination of the treatment of mental and substance use disorders especially for Americans in remote areas or in underserved populations. Web-based services, smart phones, and behavioral health electronic applications will enhance communication between patients and health care providers to improve discussions about treatment options and decisions, and better manage health. Each grantee may receive up to $280,000 annually over three years. The actual amounts may vary, depending on availability of funds and progress achieved by the awardees. — To view the list of grantees and for more information, visit www.samhsa.gov/health-information-technology.

PwC Says Digital Health Records Are Far From Secure

A majority of health organizations are underprepared to protect patient privacy and safeguard data as new uses for digital health information emerge and access to confidential patient information expands, according to a report released in September by the Health Research Institute at PwC US. In its report, "Old Data Learns New Tricks: Managing Patient Privacy and Security on a New Data-Sharing Playground," PwC says existing privacy and security controls have not kept pace with new realities in health care: increased access to information in electronic health records; greater data collaboration with external partners and business associations; the emergence of new uses for digital health information to improve the quality and cost of care; and the rise of social media and mobile technology to better and more efficiently manage patient health. — Visit www.pwc.com.