Designing health information technology tools for behavioral health clinicians integrated within a primary care team

Tanisha Tate Woodson, Rose Gunn, Khaya D Clark, Bijal A Balasubramanian, Katelyn K Jetelina, Brianna Muller, Benjamin F. Miller, Timothy E. Burdick, Deborah J Cohen


Background: Electronic health records (EHRs) are a key tool for primary care practice. However, EHR functionality is not keeping pace with the evolving informational and decision-support needs of behavioral health clinicians (BHCs) working on integrated teams. Objective: Describe workflows and tasks of BHCs working with integrated teams, identify their health information technology needs, and develop EHR tools to address them. Method: A mixed-methods, comparative-case study of six community health centers (CHCs) in Oregon, each with at least one BHC integrated in their primary care team. We observed clinical work and conducted interviews to understand workflows and clinical tasks, aiming to identify how effectively current EHRs supported integrated care delivery, including transitions, documentation, information sharing, and decision making. We analyzed these data and employed a user-centered design process to develop EHR tools addressing the identified needs. Results: BHCs used the primary care EHR for documentation and communication with other team members, but the EHR lacked the functionality to fully support integrated care. Needs include the ability to: (1) automate and track paper-based screening; (2) document behavioral health history; (3) access patient social and medical history relevant to behavioral health issues, and (4) rapidly document and track progress on goals. To meet these needs, we engaged users and developed a set of EHR tools called the BH e-Suite. Conclusion: Integrated primary care teams, and particularly BHCs, have unique information needs, workflows and tasks. These needs can be met and supported by the EHR with a moderate level of modification.


qualitative research; integrated care; primary care; electronic health records; behavioral health clinicals

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