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Trafton JA, Greenberg G, Harris AH, Tavakoli S, Kearney L, McCarthy J, Blow F, Hoff R, Schohn M. VHA mental health information system: applying health information technology to monitor and facilitate implementation of VHA Uniform Mental Health Services Handbook requirements. Medical care. 2013 Mar 1; 51(3 Suppl 1):S29-36.
AIM: To describe the design and deployment of health information technology to support implementation of mental health services policy requirements in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). METHODS: Using administrative and self-report survey data, we developed and fielded metrics regarding implementation of the requirements delineated in the VHA Uniform Mental Health Services Handbook. Finalized metrics were incorporated into 2 external facilitation-based quality improvement programs led by the VHA Mental Health Operations. To support these programs, tailored site-specific reports were generated. RESULTS: Metric development required close collaboration between program evaluators, policy makers and clinical leadership, and consideration of policy language and intent. Electronic reports supporting different purposes required distinct formatting and presentation features, despite their having similar general goals and using the same metrics. DISCUSSION: Health information technology can facilitate mental health policy implementation but must be integrated into a process of consensus building and close collaboration with policy makers, evaluators, and practitioners.