HRSA encourages the adoption of technology to improve access to care

The Health Resources and Services Administration—an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—announced the 2019 Integrated Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) supplemental funding opportunity to be offered to streamline access to high quality integrated behavioral health services. This funding is offered as part of the agency’s overarching mission to improve behavioral health services, ranging from targeted strategies to battle the escalating opioid epidemic to additional protocols focused on other mental health disorders. In its guidance to applicants, HRSA encourages health centers to consider whether incorporating or expanding the use of technology would be appropriate means to improve access to these integrated behavioral health services.

The importance of behavioral health integration is rooted in last year’s $350 million investment of funding to advance and expand mental health and/or substance use disorder (SUD) services, which may address opioid use disorder and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Increasing Access to High-Quality Integrated Behavioral Health Services

Candidates for this year’s non-competitive supplemental funding encompass existing Health Center Program operational grant (H80) award recipients—often referred to as ‘health centers’—that can receive ongoing funding for up to $145,000 per year.. With a large-scale and multi-pronged impact focused on life expectancy; cost efficacy; management of co-occurring conditions; and prevention, detection, and treatment; the project’s concept is engineered to increase access to high quality integrated behavioral health services. Requirements include:

  • The addition of at least 0.5 substance use disorder (SUD) and/or mental health service personnel full-time equivalents within 8 months of the award
  • The increase of new and/or existing patients receiving SUD and/or mental health services, determined through IBHS progress updates and the 2020 Uniform Data System report.

Given the strong foundation and framework utilized by the nearly 1,400 HRSA-funded health centers across the country, this grant offers an optimal opportunity to build upon a comprehensive and robust “primary care service delivery model,” and continue to combat SUDs and opioid use disorder. Through well-coordinated efforts that leverage patient-centric methodologies, health centers with existing H80 grants are positioned to expand previously existing services, continue progress toward achieving goals with both patient and personnel impact, and address unmet needs regarding SUDs and mental health.

emocha’s Commitment to Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorders

The grant specifically encourages applicants to indicate whether IBHS funding will be used to support the use and/or advancement of telehealth. Through efforts funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, emocha has a proven track record of success and experience in providing comprehensive, evidence-based care for patients with SUDs. A recent publication by colleagues at the University of Washington highlights how emocha’s video directly observed therapy helps build trust between providers and patients seeking treatment in office-based settings.Through the continuously burgeoning marriage of telemedicine and mobile technology, emocha works to facilitate effective, scalable, and implementable treatment support strategies that can be implemented into a variety of venues.

Contact us if you are interested in learning more about how technology can improve access to behavioral health services.